The Savvy IMG

Overseas doctors & dependants exempt from UK Immigration Health Surcharge

Table of Contents

Home Office UK's point based immigration system img overseas doctors

Updated: August 10, 2020


The Home Office announced on July 13 that from August 4, 2020, doctors who come to work in the UK and their dependants (partner and children), will no longer have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (NHS) – an annual fee to use the NHS – under the new Health & Care visa.

They announced earlier this year in May 2020 that doctors who come to work in the UK from overseas will no longer have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Many doctors who paid for it after the announcement are now starting to receive refunds for the payment.

But there was always a question of whether the doctors’ dependants would have to continue paying or not.

Finally, there is clarity that dependants will also be exempt from this charge starting from August 4, 2020 when this new visa will come into effect, and those who paid on or after March 31, 2020 should be refunded!

This is a very welcome change for IMGs who were being charged to use the very service they work for after already paying for their income tax – which goes towards funding the NHS.

You can read all about the new Health & Care visa here on the official government website including how to apply:

The official Home Office guidance about the new Health and Care Visa is here on page 26. This was published on July 13, 2020.

Further details can be found in this updated Tier 2 visa guidance published July 14, 2020. The new visa is a subtype of Tier 2 visa.

The official guidance about getting refunds for doctors and their dependants can be found on this government web page:

A brief history of the Immigration Health Surcharge

The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) was introduced in 2015. The alleged rationale behind it was that the NHS lost millions of pounds each year to medical tourists who would come to the UK, use the NHS, and never pay for it.

To recover these losses, the proposed solution was to charge legal immigrants this IHS fee. This included overseas students and workers and any dependants such as a spouse or children.

The fee started out as £200/year, it increased to £400/year in 2018, and it is set to increase to £624/year for adults and £470/year for children in October 2020.

Questions you might have

What about doctors who paid for the IHS before this new visa?

IHS refunds have been promised for those who paid IHS from March 31 2020, some doctors are already receiving refunds so it may just take time. You can try emailing to chase it.

If you paid IHS before that date, you may not be entitled to a refund since that was before the changes. You can try emailing them to ask about it.

You can read about it here:

What about dependants who paid for the IHS before the new visa?

If you paid IHS for dependants on or after March 31, 2020 then you can also get a refund.

Read the details here:

What about requirements for British citizenship and Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)? Are they different for this new visa?

No changes to this have been announced so it we assume it’s the same: 5 years in the UK for ILR (aka permanent resident status), and 1 year with ILR for British citizenship. This means a total of 6 years of living in the UK to gain citizenship.

But of course, this can obviously change in the coming months.

What about XYZ?

Any questions about the new visa that are not answered in the official document linked above will have to wait for further announcements. 

We hope things continue to improve for IMGs!

This is just one of a number of changes that the UK has made to make it easier for overseas doctors to work in the UK. 

Read about the rest of them here:

Other benefits of the new Health & Care Visa

Here are the full benefits that we know of about the new visa based on the latest guidance.

You might also like

8 Responses

  1. Hi..I received Cos from my trust mentioning tier and category of visa exactly as “General (New Hires – Doctors and Nurses – ISC liable). Tier 2 was not written anywhere. Could you please tell if its same as Tier 2? Secondly, I mailed my details to UK TB testing requesting for an appointment at my city. In those details I’ve written Tier 2 which doesn’t matches with what is written in Cos. Would that be a problem?
    I would be grateful for guidance.

    1. From what we can see, no. The exemption has only been applied to Tier 2 visa holders. Please email the Home Office to seek further clarification.

    2. Tier 5 MTI doctors are eligible for a refund of their IHS, though I have no idea if they are exempt from paying by now ..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Meet the Team

Hi, we’re Drs Nick & Kimberly Tan, the two IMGs behind The Savvy IMG. We write comprehensive guides, create courses, and provide one-to-one guidance to help other overseas qualified doctors on their journey to the UK.
We have scoured the official guidance to put these posts together, but we can make mistakes! If you spot anything that is incorrect, please get in touch and we’ll put it right.
Photo of Dr Nicholas Tan