A little about the UK…
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is an island nation made up of four distinct countries: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The largest of these is England with a population of around 56 million people, making up the majority of the UK’s 66 million total population. The UK is home to a wide range of races and cultures, helping to give it a diverse demographic and multicultural ethos, whilst also maintaining its' status as one of the economic front runners in Europe.
Now that you know a bit more about the country, let’s give you a run through on how their healthcare system works.
Stone HengeLocated in Wiltshire, England, the UK boasts one of the oldest monuments in the world - some scientists claim it is even older than the Great Pyramids of Egypt!
London UndergroundThe ‘tube’ system under London was the first underground transport system in the world, it was built in 1863 and carries over a billion passengers a year.
Hole in oneA sport with a global following, Golf was invented in Scotland in 1457 and is said to have gotten so popular that James II had to ban it as his soldiers would not stop playing!
The UK Health System
First and foremost, let us give you a little bit of background about the health system in the UK. It operates on two different levels: public and private. The public system is run by the NHS (National Health Service), whilst the private system is run by individual organizations. The NHS was founded by the Labour Party in 1948 and enabled access for the poorer people, when beforehand it was exclusively offered to the upper middle class. Today, UK citizens are allowed free access to the NHS and in return they pay a proportion of their income in the form of taxes to the government, who in turn funds this organisation. Having said this, they are made to pay a small amount for prescription medication and for certain types of service.
Pros and Cons of the UK Healthcare System
Generally speaking, the UK’s system is regarded as the best in the world and provides an exhaustive list of medical services. Although many complain that the waiting times can be weeks at a time to get an appointment, there are branches of A&E (accident and emergency), which are for more urgent issues. The system works by first going to see your GP (general practitioner), who is trained for general health questions and problems. If the patient requires further treatment, then they will be referred to a specialist in the second stage of the health system. If you opt to go privately, you can be sure to cut out the waiting time, however it will cost you a bit more money. Premiums tend to cost more if you are a smoker or if you have a serious medical condition, however it means you can skip the GP visit and go straight to a specialist.
So, who qualifies for the NHS?
Whether or not you are eligible for free usage of the NHS depends on the nature and the length of your visit, rather than your nationality. If you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), the GP will not charge you personally, but the country that you come from. If you do not have an EHIC card, you will have to pay upfront or you will be asked for a written undertaking to pay for any extra costs. To be eligible for services, you need one of the following: a work VISA, a permanent resident status, or you must be a student enrolled in a study programme that lasts at least 6 months. If you require emergency treatment, this is free until the emergency is over and you can return to your home country for further treatments. If you are not eligible for the NHS, we would strongly recommend that you purchase private medical insurance adequate for the nature of your visit.
How do I know what type of VISA I need?
It is not easy to obtain a permanent residency permit in Britain, and they tend to favour those whose skills, education and occupation can contribute to not only the economy, but to wider society. For example, entrepreneurs, investors and experts in their field are assigned to the first rank of VISA, or priority list if you will. Next, you have those who have already been offered a job in the UK (second tier), and professional workers that are in short supply (third rank). Students and temporary workers complete the list in the fourth tier. To make it easier for you, we have explained the most common types of VISA below, however for more options and information please visit: www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa , if none of these VISAs fit your situation, on the link fill out a small questionnaire to find the best option for you.
1. Work VISA - Tier 2 General
This VISA will allow you to work for the specific employer who applied for the VISA on your behalf. In other words, you must get an offer for a job that is on the list of required jobs in the UK from an employer that is a licensed sponsor. You cannot be from the EEA or from Switzerland and the earliest you can apply for your VISA is three months before the start of your job, but factor in that a decision on the acceptance of the VISA can take up to three weeks. You are able to switch or extend your VISA, however it will cost you more. This VISA allows you to stay for a maximum of 5 years and 12 days, and you are permitted to enter the country 14 days before the start of your job. The VISA is only valid for as long as you continue to work for this employer.
2. Work VISA - Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer VISA
You can apply for this VISA if you are offered a job in the UK branch of a company and you are not from the EEA or Switzerland. Like the General Tier 2 VISA, your employer must be a licensed sponsor in order to apply for your VISA. However, there are two types of Intra Company Transfer VISA: long term-staff and graduate trainee. The long-term staff VISA is made for just that - long-term employees of a company. You are required to have had previous experience in the company beforehand (normally at least 12 months) - this is not necessary if they are going to pay you over £73,900 per year whilst in the UK. This VISA lets you stay for 5 years and 1 month unless you earn over £120,000 a year, in which case this is extended to 9 years. The graduate trainee VISA is ideal if you are transferring for a specialist role in the UK within your company, at least 3 months previous experience is necessary. Again, the earliest you can apply for your VISA is three months before the start of your job, but factor in that a decision on the acceptance of the VISA can take up to three weeks. This VISA lets you stay for up to 12 months.
3. Student VISA - Tier 4 General
To apply for a student VISA to study in the UK you will need to fit 5 criteria. These include: being over 16 years old; having already been offered a place on a course; an ability to read/write/speak English; proof that you can pay for the course and living costs; not being from the EEA or Switzerland. Once again, the earliest you can apply for your VISA is three months before the start of your studies, but factor in that a decision on the acceptance of the VISA can take up to three weeks. It costs £348 (as of June 2019) and allows you to arrive in the country up to 1 week before your course if its' duration is 6 months or less, or alternatively up to 1 month before if the course lasts longer than 6 months.