London, Feb.20 : Foreigners coming to Britain will have to pay a new "immigrant tax", and according to Home Office sources, the money collected will used for the upkeep of schools and hospitals.
According to The Telegraph, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith will announce the plans that include a 'points system' for those seeking British citizenship The announcement follows growing evidence that health, education and social services are coming under increasing strain from immigration, with councils complaining that they need hundreds of millions of pounds more every year to cope.
According to the plan, older applicants - who are likely to need more health care for example - will pay more than young, skilled workers.
MPs in areas where immigrant numbers have risen in recent years - particularly from eastern Europe - complain that services are near breaking point.
But critics warned last night that the move would not generate anywhere near the sums needed to cover the cost of providing health care and education to hundreds of thousands of immigrants.
Sources indicate that the additional levy could be set at 10 per cent of the visa fee - an additional 20-pounds for the usual 200-pound visa granted to those wishing to stay in Britain longer than six months.
Ministers hope to generate an extra 15 million pounds a year, although council chiefs say they need 250 million pounds more annually to avoid increased council tax.
East Europeans will not need a visa to enter Britain and therefore, will escape the immigration tax charge because they are part of the European Union.
Non-EU tourists are granted visas for six months. People seeking work can be granted visas lasting for two, five or 10 years.
Ministers plan to set up a British Trust Fund using the additional sums. Whitehall officials will hand out the money to councils.
The most recent figures show that in 2006/7 the UK Visas agency raised 190 million pounds from visa fees from 2.7 million applications.
The Daily Telegraph has learnt that for the first time there will be three "bands" of citizenship to control the unrestricted immigration of recent years.
Those hoping to become British will be accorded temporary resident status for five years. They then become probationary citizens for a year, after which - if they pass a test - they have full British status.
The test will state that migrants must be able to speak the English language before they can become British.
The Local Government Association said the plans were a step in the right direction, but it wanted to see how much money was available.
Damian Green, the Tory immigration spokesman, however, said the cost of the visas could put off key workers such as nurses coming from outside the EU.
The proposals include citizenship credits for migrants doing voluntary work. However, points would be deducted for those breaking the law or otherwise behaving badly, meaning it would take longer to be eligible for a passport.
There would be sanctions for dangerous driving, anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping.
The rights of settlement and to apply for full citizenship would be "won" once enough credits were acquired.
They will be built up from the moment an immigrant arrives but it will take at least five years to get a passport.