idenditycardSkilled migrants seeking to renew their visas will now be required to apply for a compulsory ID card, Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas announced today, as the roll out of the scheme continues ahead of schedule.

Since the scheme was introduced in November 2008 for students renewing their visa under Tier 4 of the Points Based System (PBS) and people seeking to renew marriage visas, more than 130,000 cards have been issued.

From today, the scheme will be extended to incorporate skilled foreign workers under Tier 2 of the PBS. This brings the roll out forward from April this year and adds around 40,000 foreign nationals a year to those currently being issued with the cards.

Mr Woolas said:

“Identity cards are a secure and simple way for foreign nationals to prove they are entitled to live, work or study in the UK. The biometric data contained on the card ties migrants to one identity and prevents those here illegally from benefiting from the privileges of life in Britain.

“Identity cards have already been issued to more than 130,000 foreign nationals, with a total of approximately 140,000 due to be issued by the end of the financial year.

“We are proud to be working with the Post Office to provide vital extra capacity and speed up the enrolment process. The greater choice this partnership provides for migrants is proving popular and already 1,432 have used the new technology in Post Offices to enrol their details.”

The cards – for non-Europeans who are applying to extend their stay in the UK – securely lock foreign nationals to one identity. They will also help foreign nationals prove their right to live and work in the UK while making it easier for businesses to crack down on illegal working.

Foreign nationals living within qualifying postcodes and invited by the Post Office will have the option of providing their fingerprints and photograph at one of the participating Post Offices for a fee of £8 or at one of the UK Border Agency or Identity and Passport Service Offices currently included within the scheme, which remain free.

The Post Office will not be making decisions on whether someone can stay in the UK and detailed checking of enrolment details will continue to be conducted by the UK Border Agency.

Alan Cook, Managing Director of the Post Office, said:

“The Post Office is very pleased to be offering an enrolment service on a trial basis at 17 Crown branches. The trial went live in early November and the technology is working well, with foreign nationals who have gone to participating branches appreciating the ability to enrol their personal details in a secure way at a convenient and trusted high street location.

“We are setting a worldwide benchmark among post offices around the globe in our investment in this groundbreaking technology and we remain committed to exploring further opportunities to provide a secure and efficient enrolment service in our branches as the work can generate extremely useful income to help support the whole of the nationwide Post Office network.”


1. The UK Border Agency started to issue biometric immigration documents, known as Identity Cards for Foreign Nationals (ICFN), to non-EEA nationals on 25 November 2008.

2. Currently ICFN are issued to those applying in the UK to extend their stay in the following categories :

• Tier 4 (students);
• Spouses, civil partners, unmarried or same-sex partners;
• A selection of application types from the ‘other category’:

– Academic visitors granted leave for a period exceeding six months;

– Visitors for private medical treatment;

– Domestic workers in a private household;

– United Kingdom ancestry;

– Retired persons of independent means;

– Sole representatives and

– Transfer of conditions (for those with existing limited leave transferring details from a passport or other such document into a new document).

3. The new Tier 2 categories rolled out from 6 January 2010 cover:

• Skilled workers;
• Ministers of religion;
• Sports persons;
• Representatives of overseas businesses; and
• Dependants

4. It is estimated that by the end of 2014/15 about 90 per cent of all foreign nationals will have been issued with an Identity Card.

5.  The Points Based System (PBS) is the biggest change to the immigration system in a generation. Approximately 80 immigration routes have been consolidated into a 5 Tier system, one of which is suspended (Tier 3).
Tier 1 is for highly skilled workers who do not require a UK sponsor, and are applying for a UK Visa in their own right.
Tier 2 is for skilled workers with a UK Sponsor and a UK job offer. Tier 2 was introduced in November 2008.
Tier 3 is for low skilled workers and is currently suspended due to our ability to meet these requirements from the expanded EU.
Tier 4 is for adults and children with a School/College/University sponsor who wish to come to the UK to study.
Tier 5 is for temporary workers (people coming to the UK to satisfy primarily non-economic objectives). It brings together the application process for temporary workers, providing clearer indicators to the options available and making the immigration routes more transparent.

6. The 17 Post Offices participating in the trial are:

Camden High Street
Earl’s Court
Old Street
South Shields




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