The United Kingdom Thursday said it will ‘significantly’ increase visa fees and immigration health surcharge (IHS) to help fund pay increases in its public sector.
“First we are going to increase the charges that we have for migrants who are coming to this country when they apply for visas and indeed something called the immigration health surcharge which is the levy that they pay to access the NHS,” UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said at a press conference.
He said if the government is to prioritise paying public sector workers more, the money had to come from somewhere else because he is not prepared to increase people’s taxes and does not think it would be responsible or right to borrow more as it would only worsen inflation.
“All of those fees are going to go up and that will raise over a billion pounds. Across the board visa application fees are going to go up significantly and similarly for the immigration health surcharge for migrants who are coming to this country legally…,” Mr Sunak added.
He noted that it is the appropriate thing to do as neither of these fees has been increased in recent times even as general costs have continued to increase, adding that it is a significant contribution to helping the government pay public sector workers.
Public sector workers in the UK including teachers and health workers have recently embarked on strikes demanding a pay increase. Accepting the recommendation of the independent pay review body, the government has now agreed to a pay increase of between five and seven per cent.
This pay increase will be funded by foreigners coming to the UK through increased visa fees and health surcharges, the prime minister said.
The surcharge is currently £470 per year for students and those on Youth Mobility Scheme visas and £624 per year for all other visa and immigration applications. The same amount must be paid for any dependents.