COVID-19 IHS exemption for NHS staff

The government is no longer charging Immigration Health Surcharge to NHS staff.

PM, Boris Johnson declared "the purpose of the [immigration] surcharge is to benefit the NHS, help to care for the sick and save lives. NHS and care workers from abroad who are granted visas are doing this already by the fantastic contribution which they make."

Migrants coming to the UK for work must pay a fee known as the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). This covers the cost of access to the NHS, whether they use its services or not, and on top of income tax, National Insurance and other contributions.

​The IHS exemption applies to all NHS staff, including Porters and Cleaners, Independent Health Worker and Social Care Workers.

Currently, the IHS for non-EU migrants is fixed at £400 per year and set to rise to £624 in October. These costs are addition to Home Office applications.

The IHS will apply to EEA citizens moving to the UK from January 2020.


The Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank has estimated that exempting NHS and Social Care Workers in England would cost around £90m a year.

In addition, the Home Office has also removed restrictions on the amount of hours student nurses and doctors can work in the NHS encouraging a larger workforce on the ground.

Furthermore, pre-registered overseas nurses who are required to sit their first skills test within three months and to pass within eight months will have this deadline extended to the end of the year. This gives overseas nurses more time to study, pass exams and stay in the UK to support our National Health Service.

More guidance is expected to be announced in the coming days. Please feel free to contact us for further guidance.

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