UK Visas Becoming Much More Expensive

UK Visas Becoming Much More Expensive
Moving to the UK is becoming even more expensive. Photo by Matt Graham.

The UK government is increasing the cost of visas for foreign nationals, including Australians, who want to live and work in the UK. The price increases apply to many visa types, including the Youth Mobility and UK Ancestry visas.

From 6 February 2024, the UK government will also massively increase the Immigration Health Surcharge payable with most visa applications.

Higher visa application fees

In October 2023, the UK government increased the application fee for a Youth Mobility visa from £259 (approx. AUD495) to £298 (approx. AUD570). The Ancestry Visa application fee similarly went up from £531 (approx. AUD1,015) to £637 (approx. AUD1,218).

Application fees for most other visa types also increased by around 15-20%.

But these visa application fee increases are relatively minor compared to another upcoming change…

Immigration Health Surcharge increase coming

In addition to the visa fee, anyone applying for a Youth Mobility or Ancestry visa for the UK must also pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).

In return for paying the IHS, visa holders can access free public health care through the National Health Service (NHS) while living in the UK.

Overall, that’s a good thing to have! But it does mean that UK visa applications have a high upfront cost. (The IHS is refunded if your visa application is rejected for whatever reason.)

Ambulance in the UK
Although the IHS adds to the cost of visa applications, it comes with access to the National Health Service in the UK. Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash.

Youth Mobility Scheme visa IHS increase

Currently, the IHS for Australians getting a Youth Mobility Scheme visa is £470 (approx. AUD898) per year. As this is a two-year visa, that brings the total IHS cost to £940 (approx. AUD1,796).

But from Tuesday, 6 February 2024, the IHS payable with Youth Mobility Scheme visa applications will increase to £776 (approx. AUD1,485) per year. That’s a 65% increase, which significant.

Also note that from 31 January 2024, Australians will get to stay in the UK for three years through the Youth Mobility Scheme instead of the current two years. (This is also the date that this visa becomes available to Aussies aged 31-35.)

This will comprise of a two-year visa, with the possibility for Australians to extend for a third year once the initial two years is almost up. So, Aussies will still need to pay two years worth of the IHS upfront, and then for a third year when extending. This brings the total IHS cost after the 6 February 2024 changes to £2,328 (approx. AUD4,450) for the full three years.

This means the total cost for Australians to get a Youth Mobility Scheme visa, if extending for the third year, will soon be over $5,000. That’s more than double the current amount.

UK Ancestry visa IHS increase

The Immigration Health Surcharge increase for Ancestry Visa applicants is even worse. Instead of the current £3,120 (approx. AUD5,967) for five years, the cost will soon be £5,175 (approx. AUD9,900) for five years.

This increase also takes effect from 6 February 2024.

Apply before 6 February 2024 to get the lower rate

The UK parliament voted on the proposal to raise the Immigration Health Surcharge in mid-January 2024. The legislation passed, so the increased rate will apply to applications submitted on or after 6 February 2024.

Some had previously predicted that this change would take effect from 16 January 2024, but the legislation was delayed passing through the UK parliament.

You can still access the current IHS rates by applying for a UK visa before the changes are implemented.

This article was updated on 27 January 2024 to reflect the revised implementation date for the IHS increase.

Matt Graham

Matt is the founder of Working Holidays for Aussies. Passionate about travel and always looking for great deals, he believes that gap years & working holidays are the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture and gain invaluable life experience. Originally from Australia, Matt has travelled to over 80 countries and has lived in New Zealand, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

10 thoughts on “UK Visas Becoming Much More Expensive

  1. Thanks for the comprehensive info- any updates on when (ie what date)
    this increase will come into effect?

  2. hopefully this comes into effect after feb 2024, then it gives people a chance to apply for the youth mobility visa with the lower fees

    1. It’s now confirmed that the IHS fee increase will take place from 6 February 2024. So, you do have a window of 1 week to apply after the other changes to the Youth Mobility visa. 🙂

  3. Hi, what happens if your passport expires before your visa expiry date. EG I have a year left on my passport but YMV will last for 2 years. Is the visa transferrable. Thanks in advance.

    1. I don’t think you can transfer a visa to a new passport, but I could be wrong.

      I suspect it would probably be a good idea if you renew your passport before applying for this visa.

  4. Hi Matt,

    Great article, thank you! Just curious around arrival date flexibility. Say I apply for the YMV and put my arrival date as 1 June 2024, but my travel/move is delayed, how long do I have to arrive in the UK?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. In general, you are supposed to collect your biometric residence permit from within the UK within 10 days of your nominated arrival date. So you should ideally choose a date that you are committed to. As for what happens if you get delayed, I don’t know the answer to this sorry. You might wish to ask the UK government directly.

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