LONDON (TIP): The British Queen on May 27 announced at the opening of the UK parliament session that businesses that employ foreign labour will have to pay a new visa levy which will be used to fund apprenticeship schemes for British workers.
The scheme will not be rolled out right away.
The Queen said that a consultation will be carried out first on the possibility of funding apprenticeship schemes for British and EU workers using the funds raised through the new visa levy.
The Queen also announced plans to set up a new enforcement agency that would crack down on businesses employing illegal immigrants or smuggling people into Britain with the promise of work.
She said, “It is not right that unscrupulous employers can exploit workers, luring them here with the promise of a better life.”
A new single agency will have the scale and powers to stop this, she said.
Britain has already started charging Indians for health care which was free till now. Indian students coming into UK now to study are paying an additional “health surcharge” over their visa fees.
According to the new rule, from April 6, nationals from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) coming to live in the UK for longer than six months will be required to pay the ‘health surcharge’ in order to gain access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
Indians have to pa an additional £200 per year (Rs 19,000) as health surcharge. But students have to pay £150 per at the time of applying for their visa. Visa applicants will need to pay up-front for the total period of their UK visa.
Till April 6, non-EEA nationals coming to work, study or join family members received free medical treatment under NHS in the same way as a permanent resident.
The Queen said the new immigration bill will also require all foreign offenders released on bail to be tagged, “So we always know exactly where they are. This will prevent absconding and increase the number of criminals deported”.
British Prime Minister David Cameron recently made it mandatory for all banks in Britain to check their bank accounts against databases to confirm that their clients are not n UK illegally. This was reiterated by the Queen on Wednesday.
It is also being made mandatory for landlords to check whether their tenants are here legally.
Earlier, the UK had floated the idea of controversial plan to impose a £3,000 immigration bond on visitors from “high-risk” countries like India. The fee would have been over and above the existing visa costs. The bond was a part of the government’s intention to reduce the number of immigrants to less than 100,000 per year. An applicant would have to forfeit the amount unless they left when required.
Outrage from India – the third largest investor in the UK-made Britain drop the idea.