Tens of thousands of international health and care staff who have worked tirelessly to save lives during the pandemic are exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) to pay to use the NHS from today.
Overseas NHS and care workers are now able to claim their reimbursement from the surcharge fulfilling a pledge made by the Prime Minister in May.
The IHS allows non-European Economic Area nationals to access the NHS on broadly the same basis as UK residents if they are seeking to work, study, or join family members for more than six months.
The Government’s Tier 2 Health and Care visa launched in August exempted eligible staff from paying the IHS.
The new reimbursement scheme goes further to ensure that staff not covered by the visa, but who have worked in the NHS or care sector since March 31 are able to claim reimbursement for themselves and their dependents, even if they paid the surcharge before this date.
Secretary of state for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, said: “I am incredibly proud of all the fantastic health and care workers from all over the world we have working in our NHS who provide such an invaluable service, from cleaners to care workers to porters.
“We can now deliver on our promise as the reimbursement scheme will benefit those who have given so much this year to protect us all from COVID-19. This will encourage overseas health and care workers to continue to come and work in the UK and help those already living here to provide first-class care and support for patients.”
Applications will be processed by the NHS Business Services Authority (BSA) and UK Visa and Immigration.
The IHS Reimbursement Scheme will work alongside the Health and Care Visa announced in July and launched in August this year. Reimbursements for the IHS will be paid in six-month instalments.