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19 June 2024

UK General Election 2024 immigration policies you should know

The result of the upcoming UK General Election will see many changes in UK policies, including immigration. We shall explore the different immigration policies of the parties in our blog.
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
UK 2024 General Election immigration policies.

For the last few years, immigration has been a very hot topic in UK politics. There have been heated, emotional debates between those both for and against different aspects of immigration policies, and it seems the outcome of the 2024 UK General Election could be heavily influenced by the parties’ immigration policies. 

All of the parties have different points of view, with some being more strict, and others wanting to try new approaches towards immigration policy.

We shall go through what the five biggest parties vying for seats across the UK have put forward as their immigration policies, and leave it to you to decide which party you support the most.  

In each section, we will discuss one party at a time, and discuss some key points from each manifesto. We will not be able to include every single detail, but we will aim to provide a helpful overview. 

In our summaries, we will include the Conservative Party, the Labour Party, the Reform Party, the Liberal Democrats, and the Green Party. We will not include large parties such as the SNP and Plaid Cymru, as though they are popular, they only contest seats in their respective local nations.

Table of Contents

The Conservative Party’s immigration policies

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People will most likely be most familiar with the immigration policies of the Conservatives, as they have spent 14 years in power and have generated countless headlines regarding their aims and goals over those years. 

Many of the Tory Party’s policies are already in place, or have only recently been enacted, due to them being the ruling party. Several of these were possibly introduced in a bid to increase their chances at the election.

Deals with other countries

For example, due to high illegal migration from Albania, they signed a deal with the Albanian government that resulted in thousands of Albanian nationals being deported back to their home country. After this, by the end of 2023, the number of Albanian nationals trying to cross the English Channel dropped by 90% since the agreement was made in December 2022. The Tory Party have said they will aim for similar agreements with other countries. 

As part of their dealings with other countries, the Tory Party have stated in their manifesto that they want to restrict visa access for those from countries that do not work with the UK to deal with illegal immigration.

They also plan to continue their Rwanda plan by sending regular flights there with illegal migrants. This plan has so far come under some criticism for both human rights issues, as well as the large cost, with it being reported in February that it will cost £1.8 million per person.

Continue and expand existing schemes

Finally, the Conservatives will be continuing many of their existing schemes. So far, they have been making visa restrictions higher. For example, so far, they have increased the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) that visa holders have to pay to access NHS services, to £1,035. 

They have stated that if they stay in power, they will also require migrants to have a health check to see if they are in good health, or if they will need to regularly access NHS services. If they are not in good health, they will have to pay more for the IHS, or buy health insurance. 

An overview of their aims

As they are currently in power, the Conservative Party seemingly just want to continue doing what they have already begun, or what they have already announced they want to do, which is to make the immigration rules slightly stricter and reduce net migration.

Where to find their manifesto and learn more

To learn more about the Conservative Party’s policies, you can find their manifesto on their website.

The Labour Party’s immigration policies

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With them being the opposition to the current Conservative government, and polling very well amongst the electorate, the Labour Party’s policies have also been heavily reported on. You will likely already know some of what they have planned if they get into power, but we shall provide an overview of their immigration policies.

In their manifesto, Labour have recognised the contribution that migrants have made to the British economy by working. However, they have also stated that under the existing government, the UK has become overly reliant on overseas workers to fill shortages. As a result, they aim to reduce net migration, and encourage more British nationals into these roles.

Reform the points-based system

Labour plans to reform the existing points-based immigration system by restricting certain visas, though they have not stated how. They have also said that they will link immigration policy to skills policy, which includes upskilling workers and improving working conditions in the UK when hiring overseas workers in roles with shortages.

Strengthen the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC)

They also plan to strengthen MAC and create a plan for it to work in tandem with other bodies, such as the Industrial Strategy Council and the Department for Work and Pensions. This is part of their plans to link immigration and skills policies. 

Training plans for industries with shortages

Finally, Labour have stated that they will create training and workforce plans for healthcare, social care, and construction, which is linked to their aim to upskill existing workers, and also encourage new domestic workers. All of these industries have shortages that they need new workers to fill.

An overview of their aims

Ultimately, Labour so far seem to be aiming to reduce net migration by focussing on industries that have job shortages, and encouraging British workers to take on these roles. These topics are closely linked, and Labour want to tackle them together. 

However, they have not provided as much detail as other parties, so it is difficult to tell how they will go about it.

Where to find their manifesto and learn more

If you want to read more about Labour’s immigration policies, or their other policies, then you can read their manifesto online.

The Liberal Democrats

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For many years, the Liberal Democrats have essentially been the third party in British politics. Whilst they have never been close to winning an election, they have always managed to have some influence on British politics (such as their coalition with the Conservatives in 2010), and manage to win a substantial number of seats. 

Their immigration policy differs somewhat from both Labour and the Conservatives, with Lib Dem policies going in a more lenient direction. They have also covered many different areas of the rules, so they have provided a lot of detail.

Government bodies

To begin, the Liberal Democrats want to move some policy-making powers from the Home Office, and to other departments. They have focussed specifically on work visas and applications from overseas students. 

At a regional government level, they want to give devolved administrations greater involvement in policies for work and student visas, to ensure that every area of the UK has a say on the rules that will benefit them.

Asylum seekers and English Channel crossings

They have also said that they will get rid of both the Illegal Migration Act and the Rwanda Scheme, both of which were introduced under the Conservative government. Additionally, they will look into providing safe and legal routes for refugees to try and reduce the number of people who cross the English Channel.

To try and tackle the asylum backlog, the Liberal Democrats plan on introducing a dedicated team to speed up the process, and improve the quality of the service. In addition to this, they want to implement a standard processing time of three months for all but the most complex asylum applications. 

Also in relation to asylum seekers, they want to make it so asylum seekers can work to support themselves if they have been waiting for a decision for longer than three months.

Finally, for dealing with Channel crossings, Lib Dem will work closely with both Europol and French authorities to try and stop trafficking gangs.

Family Visas

For families, they want to allow health and care workers to bring their dependants with them again, and also turn back the recent increases to the Spouse Visa income threshold. 

Additionally, they will reduce the fee for registering a child as British to just cover administration costs. 

EU Settlement Scheme

For EU citizens, the Liberal Democrats want to give settled status to anyone in the UK on the EU Settlement Scheme who has pre-settled status, as well as give them physical proof of their right to stay. 

Visa salary thresholds

First, they want to replace the work visa salary threshold with a merit-based system, with different departments working with employers relevant to them to address the needs of individual industries, and try to fill skill gaps.

NHS staff from overseas

Then, they want to exempt NHS staff from the Immigration Skills Charge that currently costs the NHS £1000 per sponsored employee a year.

Youth Mobility Scheme

The Liberal Democrats also plan to expand the Youth Mobility Scheme to the EU, increase the age limit to 35, abolish the visa fee, and extend its length from two years to three years.

An overview of their aims

So far, it seems they want to make the immigration rules more lenient to make life easier for migrants already in the UK, encourage more workers to come to the UK, and generally just attract migration.

Where to find their manifesto and learn more

The Liberal Democrats also have other, smaller details that you can learn about if you read their manifesto which you can find online.

The Green Party’s immigration policies

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They have never been a big party, but they have always received plenty of media coverage and are always actively trying to attract new voters. 

The Green Party’s immigration policies could be considered to be somewhat similar to those of the Liberal Democrats in some ways, with them going for a more lenient approach, unlike Labour and the Conservatives. 

Income threshold changes for visas

To begin, the Green Party aims to reverse the recent income threshold to the Spouse Visa, and completely remove minimum income requirements for both Spouse Visa holders and people on work visas. 

The Home Office

One big change that the Green Party wants to make is the complete abolishment of the Home Office. 

Instead of the Home Office, they want to split its responsibilities between a new Department of Migration, and a new Department of Justice. 

Abolishment of rules

The Green Party also wants to make some major changes to the rules that will have a great impact on migrants. For example, they want to abolish ‘no recourse to public funds’ which prevents migrants from accessing most types of benefits. 

Related to money, they want to remove minimum income requirements from all visa applications, including the recently increased Spouse Visa income threshold. 

Currently, migrants in the UK on a visa have to pay the IHS fee to access NHS services. The Green Party want to abolish this as well, and provide free healthcare to all.

Also, the Green Party wants to reverse the rule that prevents people on Student Visas from bringing their dependants with them.

In addition to this, they also want to abolish the 10-year settlement route that most types of visa can lead to under the Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) rules. 

Finally, they want to end immigration detention for all immigrants, unless they are proven to be a danger to the public. 

Voting rights

The Green Party wants to make it so that all people who are resident in the UK on a visa can vote in every election and referendum. 

Asylum changes

They have also promised to work with other countries to provide safe routes for people fleeing persecution, war, and climate disasters, so that they can easily go to a country of their choice, without risk of danger.

Also, they want to make the asylum application process quicker, and allow those waiting for a decision to be able to work and support themselves.

Migration and the climate

In the belief that climate change, alongside crises such as conflict and famine, causes people to migrate, the Green Party have created some plans to try and deal with this issue. 

They want to increase overseas aid spending to try and assist other, poorer countries in dealing with climate change. This is so people will not feel like they have to leave their homes unless they are absolutely forced to. 

An overview of their aims

Similar to the Lib Dems aims, the Green Party seems to want to make things easier for migrants already in the UK, but to a greater extent; for example, making it so visa holders can vote in more elections. 

They also seem to want to provide safer routes to the UK, and encourage more workers to come.

Where to find their manifesto and learn more

If you are interested in learning more about the Green Party’s policies, then you can visit their website and download their manifesto.

The Reform Party’s immigration policies

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Of the five biggest parties contesting seats throughout the whole of the UK, the Reform Party are the youngest, and are currently growing in popularity. It was originally created in 2018 as the Brexit Party, but since 2021, it has rebranded itself as the Reform Party.

Their immigration policies are seemingly the most strict of all those we have previously discussed, though they are the most similar to those of the Conservative Party.

Immigration limits

The Reform Party wants to introduce rule changes that restrict immigration to those who are coming to fill essential roles, such as work in healthcare. They state that limiting migration to all but the most non-essential roles will increase wages and relieve pressure on housing and public services.

Benefits changes

Anyone who wants to claim benefits under the Reform Party’s policies will need to have lived and worked in the UK for five years before they can start claiming benefits. 

Overseas criminals

They also want to deport anyone from overseas who commits a crime as soon as their sentence ends.

For immigrants who have gained British citizenship, they want to strip them of their citizenship if they commit a crime, with exceptions for minor crimes. 

Student Visa changes

In the current rules, students cannot bring their dependants with them unless they are doing a postgraduate course. 

The Reform Party wants to take it further, and stop students from bringing any dependants with them whatsoever. 

Also, they want to make it so that international students with essential skills can remain in the UK once their studies have finished.

Taxes for employers of immigrants

As part of their aims to encourage employers to seek domestic workers, the Reform Party wants to introduce an ‘Employer Immigration Tax’. This will increase National Insurance rates employers have to pay up to 20% for overseas workers, whilst the rate will remain at 13.8% for domestic workers. 

There will be exemptions of this for essential workers, such as those who work in health and care. Small businesses with five or fewer employees will also be exempt.

Asylum seekers and channel crossings

Finally, the Reform Party wants to make changes to how the asylum system works and prevent Channel crossings.

They have stated that anyone who arrives illegally in the UK from a safe country will be quickly processed, possibly in offshore locations. 

People who claim asylum from safe countries will be completely barred from receiving asylum or British citizenship. 

Rejected applicants will be returned to the country that they came from. 

An overview of their aims

Ultimately, the Reform Party wants to restrict immigration to the most essential needs of the UK; for example, health and care workers are exempt from all of their proposed restrictions. They want to reduce net migration to a much larger extent than other parties.

Where to find their manifesto and learn more

If you want to read more about both the Reform Party’s immigration policy, and their other policies, then you can find their manifesto on their website. However, they have not called it a manifesto like the other parties, they refer to it as a ‘contract’.

How we can help

There is not much we can do regarding the election, other than inform you of the different policies so you can make an informed decision. 

We will also aim to keep you informed of any future changes to the rules after the election, as there will no doubt be many changes, no matter who gets into power.

Other than this, if you are looking into applying for a UK visa, settlement under ILR, or to naturalise as a British citizen, then our expert law team can help you.

Get in touch today for a free 10-minute assessment and see how our team can assist you.

Ready for assistance?

If you have any questions, or want to book an appointment with one of our legal experts, contact Woodcock Law today. Call us on +44 (0)20 7712 1705 or email

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