On 1 October 2021 the government updated its guidance on the IHS reimbursement process. Until 30 September 2021, the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) worked with the UK Visas and Immigration (part of the Home Office) to process reimbursements to applicants. Applications were made via the GOV.UK website, processed by the NHSBSA, then approved claims were passed to the UKVI to process reimbursements. As of 1 October 2021, the way NHSBSA processes reimbursement applications has changed.
What is the IHS?
In 2015, the government set up the immigration health surcharge (IHS). Foreign nationals who apply for temporary leave to enter the UK for longer than 6 months or leave to remain in the UK for any period, must pay an IHS to the Home Office at the point of visa application. This applies to foreign nationals who are subject to immigration control and are not exempt to the IHS. The IHS has raised almost £2 billion for the general UK government funds, which are then distributed under the Barnett formula to devolved health administrations.
When was the IHS reimbursement scheme introduced?
21 May 2020
The Prime Minister announced plans to exempt health and care workers from the IHS and that reimbursements will be given to eligible health and care staff depending on their individual circumstances.
The Health and Care Worker visa was introduced by the Home Office to exempt individuals from paying the IHS at the point of application.
1 October 2020
The Health and Care Reimbursement scheme was launched by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for eligible staff outside these visas.
Who is eligible for the IHS reimbursement?
Eligible health and care workers that are entitled to claim IHS reimbursement are those who:
“do not hold or are not eligible for the health and care worker visa (including applicants who hold a valid Tier 2 (General) visa and work in an eligible role), and if they have provided the required evidence to demonstrate they have completed the eligible hours of eligible work”.
The government has laid out in detail which health and social care workers are eligible for a reimbursement, with helpful examples. Eligibility criteria is broken down into eligible hours and eligible work. An applicant’s dependants can also claim reimbursement if they too paid the IHS. Further details and examples can be found here.
2021: What’s new?
From 1 October 2021, the NHSBSA now processes reimbursement applications and requests payments via the IHSP, which process payments through WorldPay. The NHSBSA then processes applications to ensure they are eligible for the scheme, passing on approved claims to UKVI to process the reimbursement. If applicants need assistance during the process, they should call the relevant helpline number provided in the government guidance.
How long will it take for me to receive a decision?
Decisions should arrive via email and payment to the bank account associated with paying the IHS within 6 weeks from the time applicants submitted all required evidence information to NHSBSA. This time frame may be longer for applicants who were contacted by NHSBSA to give more information or to conduct a more thorough check.
Applicants may make another reimbursement claim when they have worked another 6 months in an eligible role.
I am unhappy with the decision of my case. Can I request a review?
Applicants may request an internal review with the NHSBSA if they are unhappy with decisions regarding their case. Applicants may also request an external review with the DHSC if they are not satisfied with the decision from the internal review. Grounds for internal and external reviews and their processes are outlined in the government guidance.
I want to complain. How do I make a complaint?
Should applicants want to make a complaint regarding the scheme, they should refer to the ‘contact us’ page on the NHSBSA website.
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