This week Parliament is set to put plans in motion to roll out identity cards for non-EU nationals who extend their UK stay past six months under Tier 2 of the points-based immigration system. This would be effective from January 6th 2010. Already, the UK Border Agency has issued over 100,000 identity cards mainly to students extending their stay or to spouses.
Originally identity cards for Tier 2 applicants was set to be rolled out next Spring. However, the Home Secretary requested that the UK Border Agency accelerate the implementation. Accordingly, the UK Border Agency have also made recommendations that the implementation of Tier 1 and 5 identity cards should be accelerated along the same time-scales. All foreign nationals subject to these regulations will be required to have their biometrics, e.g. photograph and fingerprints, taken when they wish to extend their stay.
Systems are now being put in place to ensure that facilities are available for enrolling these biometrics since the UK Border Agency has made a pledge that they will issue a further 75,000 cards by the end of this month. Currently biometrics can be enrolled at four UK passport offices and also at the UK Border Agency’s own offices. Appointments for this service can now be booked online, as can premium appointments for those not subject to the biometric system. However, negotiations are continuing for biometric enrolment to be offered at selected Post Office branches. This will be a walk-in service and details will be sent out with relevant biometric enrolment notification letters.