Tories would raise the £18,600 salary threshold UK citizens must meet before their non-EU spouses can gain a British visa.
The party also unveiled measures to combat health tourism. Patients would be issued an ‘NHS number’ only if they could prove they were eligible for free healthcare. This is the ten-digit number given to all patients either at birth or when they first register with a GP.
Those without an NHS number who needed emergency care would still be treated, but given an invoice afterwards.
The Tories also promised to treble the immigration surcharge – insurance fees paid by migrants to cover the cost of NHS care. It would rise to £650, with international students paying £150.
Mrs May insisted she was the only leader who could be trusted to take hard choices as she said wealthy pensioners would have to contribute more to help out the younger generation.
The document also renewed the Tory pledge to bring net migration down below 100,000 a year – from its current level of around 270,000.
Mr Fallon replied: ‘It’s our ambition to get it down to the tens of thousands. It’s an ambition and we’ve had it in previous manifestos.’
He added: ‘It is an aim and we intend to continue to aim to reduce the level of immigration.’
The Prime Minister yesterday unveiled a crackdown on foreign citizens exploiting the immigration system – while keeping the pledge to slash the numbers coming here to the ‘tens of thousands’.
Mrs May said a raft of proposals would allow a Tory government to lower net migration to below 100,000 – but she refused to set an ‘arbitrary’ date for hitting the target.
Firms employing skilled non-EU workers would see the Immigration Skills Charge double to £2,000 a year per employee, with the cash used to train millions of apprentices.
It aims to deter businesses from avoiding ‘obligations to improve the skills of the British workforce’, and the manifesto does not rule out extending the levy to EU workers after Brexit.