April 17, 2024 1:37 pm
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Outrage Grows as UK Immigration Fees Soar

The UK’s Oldest Medical Union Criticizes Government’s Plan to Increase Charges for Migrant Workers Using the Healthcare Service

The UK government’s recent decision to increase charges for migrant workers using the state healthcare service has been met with strong opposition from Doctors in Unite, the oldest medical union in the country. The government approved recommendations to raise wages for teachers, doctors, and police officers, but instead of funding these increases through tax or borrowing, the plan is to raise £1 billion through higher Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) and visa fees.

Doctors in Unite expressed their dismay over this move, as it would result in migrants paying double to access the National Health Service (NHS). The union argued that migrants, like other workers, already contribute to the NHS through general taxation, and doubling the NHS surcharge to over £1,200 per year is an unjust penalty. They called the decision “immoral and divisive,” highlighting that migrants are effectively being “taxed twice” to access the same healthcare service.

The IHS, initially meant to prevent “medical tourism,” is now paid by most migrants under stricter post-Brexit entry rules. In addition to visa fees for stays longer than six months, migrants pay the IHS per person. Currently, individuals over the age of 18 pay £624 per year, while students and individuals under 18 pay £470 per year. The government’s proposal is to increase the IHS for adults to £1,035, and £776 at the reduced rate.

The proposed plan also includes a 15% increase in work and visit visa fees, while student and leave-to-remain visas and others will see a minimum increase of 20%. Critics of the IHS increases warn that they may exacerbate understaffing in various sectors and deter high-skilled workers and students from choosing the UK. This could have negative implications for industries relying on global talent.

In response to the government’s decision, migrant and refugee charity Praxis accused ministers of treating those born outside the UK as “cash cows,” especially at a time when they are already struggling with high visa renewal fees. The Wellcome Sanger Institute, a genomics research center, revealed that it spent over £300,000 on immigration fees for its employees in 2022. The head of policy at the Institute, Sarion Bowers, emphasized that the proposed increases would create additional barriers for attracting global talent and impact both the UK and global scientific communities adversely.

The government’s aim to reduce dependency on foreign labor, along with the record levels of asylum claims from migrants crossing the Channel in small boats, has put significant pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. However, critics argue that increasing the IHS fees will not solve the underlying issues and may further complicate the immigration system.

Overall, the government’s plan to raise charges for migrant workers accessing the NHS has sparked concerns regarding fairness, potential staff shortages, and the ability to attract international talent.

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