Tories would charge all migrants for healthcare

All foreign nationals moving to the UK after the end of a Brexit transition period should pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) of £625 per year of residency, the UK’s Conservative Party has said.

At present foreign nationals who are not EU citizens have to pay an IHS of £400 until such a time as they obtain permanent residency status, called indefinite leave to remain, which typically takes five years.

However the Conservatives have stated that this should apply to EU citizens as well after 2020, and the fee should rise to £625.

This is on top of workers paying the usual British income tax and national insurance and is usually paid upfront as part of applying for a visa – for example a £3,125 IHS when applying to come for five years.

The charge was introduced in 2015 at £200 for most migrants and £150 for students and doubled this year.

Such rules could have knock-on effects on how other countries treat Britons moving over after Brexit. However, if there is a Brexit deal it would never apply to people who are resident before the end of the transition period and therefore able to benefit from the deal.

Writing in the Daily Mail, cabinet minister Michael Gove said yesterday: “it's not right that people from Bulgaria and Slovenia can come here without any controls and have automatic rights that people from Bangladesh and Singapore do not.”

The Conservatives say they would treat all migrants equally, with a new ‘Australian-style points system’, and no automatic right to access welfare and healthcare until people have obtained indefinite leave to remain.

The Minister for Security Brandon Lewis said on Sky TV programme Sophie Ridge on Sunday: “We are going to restrict benefits [to EU migrants] so that when they come over from the EU they will have to wait five years before they can get access to benefits, so it's a much fairer system for everybody."

New migrants would need to have a job offer before being able to move to the UK to work, with minor exceptions such as for skilled scientists and under certain conditions, those wanting to come to start a business.

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has also stated that the UK would reject would-be migrants with criminal convictions.

However the party has now abandoned a set annual net immigration target, after the country massively failed to reach the target of ‘under 100,000’ that was previously set by David Cameron and Theresa May (the latest figures showed it as 226,000, with EU immigration having dropped, but immigration from elsewhere rising).

They are no longer going to use an “arbitrary target” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said.

If the Conservatives win the election on December 12, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to ask the Queen to open Parliament on December 19 and ask MPs to return for a Brexit debate on December 23.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said a Labour government would allow a “great deal of movement” of people after Brexit in its immigration policies, but gave no further detail.

Both parties are set to publish their full election manifestos this week and there will be a leader’s televised debate tomorrow evening.

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