More than 100,000 identity cards issued to foreign nationals

foreign nationals, national, identity card, uk border agency 02 November 2009

The UK Border Agency has now issued more than 100,000 identity cards for foreign nationals, mostly to those extending as students or spouses - and regulations laid this week will, if approved, accelerate the roll-out of the scheme.

From 6 January 2010, if the regulations laid in Parliament this week are adopted, migrants from outside the European Economic Area will be issued with identity cards for foreign nationals when they extend their permission to stay for more than six months under Tier 2 of the points-based system. This means that they will need to enrol their biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) as part of their application to extend their stay.

Initially, applicants under Tier 2 - which covers skilled workers who have been offered a job in the United Kingdom - were to apply for cards from spring next year, but the Home Secretary asked UKBA to look at accelerating the successful roll-out. In response, It has recommended bringing forward the introduction of the identity cards for Tiers 1 and 5, from spring 2011 to the end of 2010.

The UK Border Agency had pledged to issue 75,000 cards by November 2009, so the target has been exceeded by a significant number. As the number of cards in circulation increases, UKBA has rolled out additional facilities for enrolling biometrics at their own offices and at four passport interview offices. They are in the final stages of concluding arrangements with Post Office Ltd to offer further options at selected branches - this will be a walk-in service, and customers will be informed that the service is available to them through their biometric enrolment notification letters as the participating post offices roll out.

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