£20 tax for foreigners

‘Immigration tax’ represents a contribution towards schools, hospitals 15 January 2009 – The collection of taxes will be put on visa fees for foreigners as a contribution towards the schools, hospitals and other services they use.

The taxation was first announced last year and is expected to come in to force from April. Anyone entering the country on a visa will have to pay an extra fee that will go in to a "transitional fund" for which bodies dealing with the impact of immigration, such as local authorities and police, can apply for support – the fee is likely to be £20 per foreigner.

Ministers claim the move will raise "tens of millions" of pounds but the Local Government Association has already warned it will not raise anywhere near their estimate that as much as £250 million is needed each year to cope with the influx.

Tens of thousands of migrants who want to be British citizens each year will also be "fast tracked" to settlement if they carry out voluntary or community work, under the Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Bill.

The Immigration Bill, published today in the Parliament, will introduce the notion of "probationary citizens" for those migrants who want to settle in the UK. Currently anyone who is here for five years can apply for settlement but under the new rules, they will enter a probationary period of up to five years after that point.

The length of the probationary period will depend on what contributions they make to society and those who carry out voluntary work such as fundraising or running a children’s sports team will be "fast-tracked" and gain citizenship after just an extra year.

Officials say only 60% of people given the right to settle in Britain permanently apply for citizenship. If everyone else applied it could lead to an extra 250,000 passports for foreigners each year.

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