UK Visas Becoming Much More Expensive
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.)
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.