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UK Immigration Fee Hikes Face Criticism – What It Means For Migrants?

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UK Immigration Fee Hikes Face Criticism – What It Means For Migrants

(CTN News) – The UK’s oldest medical union has strongly criticized the government’s plan to increase healthcare charges for migrant workers, aiming to cover public-sector wage increases.

Doctors in Unite, representing junior doctors, general practitioners, and hospital consultants, expressed their dismay at the proposed measure, which would require migrants to pay double to access the National Health Service (NHS).

Funding the Rise: Immigration Health Surcharge and Visa Fee Hikes

The government, led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, recently approved recommendations to raise the wages of teachers, doctors, and police officers by 5 to 7 percent.

To fund these wage increases without resorting to tax increases or government borrowing, Sunak proposed raising the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) and visa fees, projecting a revenue increase of 1 billion.

Doctors in the United argued that migrants, like other workers, already contribute to NHS funding through general taxation.

They denounced the doubling of the NHS surcharge to over £1,200 ($1,570) per year as an unjust additional penalty, claiming that migrants are effectively being “taxed twice” to access the same healthcare services. They labeled this move as both immoral and divisive.

Initially introduced to curb “medical tourism,” the IHS is now paid by most migrants under stricter post-Brexit entry rules.

It is an additional charge per person, payable in addition to visa fees for stays exceeding six months. Individuals over 18 years old pay £624 per year, while students and those under 18 pay £470 per year.

Under the government’s proposal, the IHS for adults would increase to £1,035, with a reduced rate of £776. Work and visit visas would see a 15 percent increase in fees, while student visas, leave-to-remain visas, and others would rise by at least 20 percent.

Record High Net Migration in the UK

Official figures released in May indicated that net migration in the UK reached a record high of 606,000 in 2022, adding pressure on the government, which has pledged to reduce dependency on foreign labor.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has expressed concern over the “too high” levels of legal immigration and is also dealing with an influx of asylum claims from migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats.

The criticism from Doctors in Unite highlights the ongoing debate surrounding healthcare charges for migrants and the balance between funding public services and ensuring fair access to healthcare for all individuals residing in the UK.

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