On 14th September 2021, the government announced that EU full-time students studying in the UK can apply for a reimbursement of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). The IHS entitles visa nationals to free NHS hospital treatment in the UK from the date of their visa until it expires.
EU full-time students are required to pay the Immigration IHS as part of their visa application if their study course is longer than 6 months.
However, from 1st January 2022, they will be able to apply for a full or partial IHS reimbursement which will be backdated to include any surcharge payments made for a visa starting on or after 1st January 2021, if they meet the following criteria:
- they must be a full-time student in UK higher education at level 4 and above in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or level 7 and above in Scotland
- their visa started on or after 1st January 2021
- they possess an EU issued European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
- they do not work or do not intend to work in the UK
Family members may also apply for a reimbursement if they:
- are in the UK on a visa that started on or after 1 January 2021
- hold a valid EHIC
- do not work or intend to work in the UK
When you cannot apply for a reimbursement
The UK and EU have agreed a set of rules where a partial or full reimbursement will not be given if applicants:
- work in the UK or
- plan to work in the UK
Students applying for an IHS reimbursement must declare if they are currently paid to work, have worked and received a salary, or intend to do paid work in the UK during their visa period. It is important to note that if any of these apply, the student’s right to work under the conditions of their visa is not affected.
However, those doing unpaid work (including unpaid work placements) or volunteering can still apply for an IHS reimbursement even if they receive scholarship income (such as a bursary).
How to access medical care after applying for a reimbursement
Once the student has applied for a reimbursement, they must:
- show their valid EU EHIC when accessing medical treatment while in the UK.
- pay for any NHS healthcare which not deemed medically necessary including ‘elective’ treatment such as planned, non-urgent surgery that is not covered by EHIC.