When you come to the UK as a student, you’ll not only need to get a student visa but you’re also required to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). In 2023, the price of IHS for UK student visa is £470 for one year, or £235 for 6 months or less for people applying for student visas from within the UK.
However, there is more to understand about the IHS as you might have to pay more than you expect, or you may be entitled to a refund.
What Is IHS?
IHS stands for Immigration Health Surcharge and is the name given to the fee that some people migrating to the UK have to pay in order to use the National Health Service. If you develop an illness or have an accident while in the UK, the IHS allows you to use NHS services such as Accident & Emergency and GP Surgeries.
Even after paying the IHS, like most British citizens, you still have to pay for:
- Eye tests
- Dental treatment
Whether you think you’ll stay healthy or not, you must pay the IHS to complete your student visa application, even if you don’t use any NHS services or have other private insurance.
IHS fees are relatively simple, but you need to be aware of how long your visa is.
When applying for a student visa for the UK, you need to have a document called a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), that you’ll be given once you’ve been guaranteed a place at a UK university with an unconditional offer. Once you have your offer, you’ll know how long your course lasts, however, your student visa will be given to you covering a month before your course starts and four months afterwards, which adds five months on to the end of your course.
If your course lasts 6 months, your student visa for the UK will be valid for 11 months. If your course lasts 3 years, your student visa will be given for 3 years and 5 months. How much IHS you pay depends on how long your student visa lasts.
For 6 Months or Less
If you’re applying from outside of the UK to stay in the UK for less than 6 months with a student visa, you do not have to pay the IHS, however, you are not entitled to use NHS services and so must have private insurance to cover the length of your stay.
For students trying to extend their student visas or those applying from within the UK, the fee for a stay of up to six months is £235. Even if you’re planning to stay for less than 6 months, you still have to pay £235 for the IHS.
Similarly, if you’re staying in the UK for more than 6 months, but less than a year, you’ll have to pay the IHS price for a year.
For 1 Year or More
The price of IHS for one year is simply double the price for six months, i.e. £470 for UK student visas. You have to pay this fee for each year of your student visa, and if your student visa lasts for over a year but less than two, you have to either pay the six-month fee or the two-year fee.
- If your course lasts one year, you’ll get a visa for 17 months, and pay £470 + £235 = £705
- If your course lasts 3 years, you’ll get a visa for 3 years and 5 months, and pay (£470 x 3) + £235 = £1,645
Although you must pay the IHS when completing your UK student visa application online or by post, there are some cases where you may receive a full or partial refund.
Completing the student visa application can be stressful, so although we try to avoid them, mistakes can happen. If you’ve accidentally paid the IHS twice, you’ll get a full refund of the second transaction. Also, if you change your mind in the few weeks after applying before receiving your visa and withdraw your student visa application, or if it’s simply refused, you’ll get a full refund of the IHS you paid.
Although student visas are usually the length of the course with a total additional five months to cover transport to and from university in the UK, sometimes people request more time on their visa for other activities or educational pursuits. If you don’t get the amount of time on your visa that you’ve asked for and paid your IHS for, you will receive a partial refund of the amount you’ve overpaid.
However, bear in mind that if you apply for a 2-year student visa, for example, and only receive a student visa for 1 year and 8 months – or any time over 1 year and 6 months – the IHS still costs the same as it would for a 2-year visa, so you shouldn’t expect a refund.
People who are anticipating a refund from the UK government for the IHS don’t have to do anything as the refund will be paid into the same account that was used to pay the IHS initially.
Reasons to Not Receive an IHS Refund
There are a few reasons not to receive an IHS refund, so if you expect to receive one, consider first if:
- Your student visa application was successful but you did not travel to the UK
- You’re ordered to leave the UK before your student visa expiration date.
- You leave the UK before your visa expires.
You’re also unlikely to receive any kind of refund for the IHS for your student visa application unless you meet all of the following conditions – and how much you get depends on your EHIC expiration date or S1 certificate:
- You’re from an EU country or Switzerland
- You’re a full-time student in the UK
- You have an EHIC (European Healthcare Insurance Card) from the EU or Switzerland
- You are not in employment
- Your visa began after 1 January 2021
Breakdown of UK Student Visa Fees
The UK’s oldest university is almost 1,000 years old, and one of the oldest universities in the world, so studying in the UK has always been a relatively prestigious thing. Whether studying in the UK is worth it or not, depends on how you weigh up your education against the massive fees that you’ll incur if you succeed with your application.
As well as paying a tuition fee each year for your British university education, and the IHS fee to be able to access national health services for free, you need to pay for the student visa. This costs £363 for the application from outside of the UK, or £490 from inside the UK for people who wish to start studying after having previously been staying in the UK under a different visa, or those who wish to extend their studies.
What’s more, when you’re applying for your student visa, you also have to submit evidence in the form of bank statements or letters from financial sponsors, that you have enough financial resources to cover your accommodation and living costs as well as your tuition fees. Living costs are estimated at £1,265 a month for students in London, and £1,015 a month for students outside of London.
Help with your Student Visa Application
There are some hidden costs and regulations when applying for a UK student visa, so it can be useful to get some help. Synergy Immigration Solutions has a team of immigration experts that can assist with all kinds of immigration services and liaise with the UK Visas and Immigration department on your behalf.
If you need help with your student visa application, Synergy Immigration Solutions is here to help.