Beginning 6 April, non-European Union visa seekers wanting to live in the UK beyond 6 months will have to pay a 'health surcharge' at the time of applying for visas, to cover part of the cost of any medical treatment they may need while in the UK.
The surcharge will, however, apply only to those coming to live in the UK for longer than six months, and will not affect visitors and tourists coming for less than six months as they have to pay for any medical treatment while in the UK.
The health surcharge varies from £200 per year to general category visitors and £150 per year for students and will be payable at the time of submitting visa application on-line, official sources said on Friday.
Visa applicants will need to pay up-front for the total period of their UK visa. Dependants will pay the same amount as the main applicant, the sources said.
Those coming on the inter-company transfer visa - mostly availed by Indian IT professionals - will be exempted from paying the surcharge but will need to complete the process through a website on the health surcharge.
The UK government justified the surcharge levels saying, these are based on the wide range of free health services available to migrants coming to live in the UK.
Immigration and security minister James Brokenshire said, ''The health surcharge will play a vital role in ensuring Britain's most cherished public service is provided on a basis that is fair to all who use it. For generations, the British public have paid their taxes to help make the NHS what it is today - the surcharge will mean temporary migrants will also pay their way.
''And by keeping the surcharge at a competitive level, we are also recognising the contribution temporary migrants make to the wider economy.''
The changes will not affect visitors coming to the UK on a standard visit visa, regardless of its length, and visitors will continue to have to pay for any treatment they receive from the NHS at the point of receiving it.