Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced last week that skilled migrants renewing their visas to stay in the United Kingdom will be issued with an identity card from the new year, three months ahead of schedule.
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) said that from January 2010, skilled foreign workers under Tier 2 of the points-based system will be issued with identity cards. This brings the roll-out forward from April 2010 and will add around 30,000 foreign nationals a year to those currently being issued with identity cards.
Since their introduction, over 90,000 cards have been issued, mainly to students renewing their visa under Tier 4 of the points-based system and those renewing marriage visas. The government has exceeded its target of issuing 75,000 cards by November 2009.
The UK Border Agency is also to trial technology at 17 Crown post offices to provide foreign nationals applying for identity cards with alternative and more accessible venues where they can enrol their fingerprints. The trials will start rolling out from October.
The Home Secretary said:
‘Identity cards have been issued to 90,000 foreign nationals, exceeding our target by 15,000, a month ahead of schedule.
‘By speeding up the roll-out of the cards, more people will benefit from a secure and simple way to prove they are entitled to live, work or study here and it will prevent those here illegally from benefiting from the privileges of Britain.
‘Our partnership with the Post Office will provide vital extra capacity enabling the UK Border Agency to further speed up the enrolment process and give extra work to help safeguard the Post Office network. It will also give more choice and convenience to migrants about where they can enrol.’
Identity cards for foreign nationals who come to the United Kingdom from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) were introduced in November 2008. Migrants are required to have their photograph and fingerprints taken, securely locking them to one identity and helping them to prove their right to live and work in the United Kingdom – while helping businesses to crack down on illegal working.
The introduction of the identity cards for skilled migrants and temporary workers under Tiers 1 and 5 of the points-based system will also be brought forward, from 2011 to 2010.
From October, foreign nationals who are being issued with identity cards will be given the choice of providing their fingerprints and photograph at one of the participating Crown post offices (for a fee of £8) or at one of the UK Border Agency or Identity & Passport Service Offices currently included within the scheme (which will remain free).
The Post Office will not be making decisions on whether someone can stay in the United Kingdom, and detailed checking of enrolment details will continue to be conducted by the UK Border Agency. The post office trial provides extra capacity for the UK Border Agency and gives customers an alternative for enrolment.
Alan Cook, managing director of the Post Office, said:
‘The Post Office is very pleased to be supporting this trial, as our reputation for trust and the unparalleled reach of our network means we can offer secure and efficient transfer of personal data while the potential for earning additional income would help support and sustain the nationwide branch network.’
Regulations setting out the next stage of the roll-out of identity cards for foreign nationals will be laid in Parliament in October.
For more information, see Identity cards for foreign nationals on the UKBA website.
If you need any immigration advice or help with Studying in the UK, Settlement, Citizenship, Sponsorship, extending Work Permits, Visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: