Border securityU.K. to start issuing non-EU identity cards on 6 January

Published 9 November 2009

Visitors to the United Kingdom who extend their stay in the country beyond six months will be issued non-EU biometric identity cards; the U.K. Border Agency has already issued over 100,000 identity cards mainly to students extending their stay or to spouses

Last week the U.K. Parliament set plans in motion to roll out identity cards for non-EU nationals who extend their U.K. stay past six months under Tier 2 of the points-based immigration system. This would be effective from 6 January 2010. Already, the U.K. 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, but the Home Secretary requested that the U.K. Border Agency accelerate the implementation. Accordingly, the U.K. 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 U.K. 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 U.K. passport offices and also at the U.K. 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. Negotiations are continuing, however, for biometric enrollment to be offered at selected Post Office branches. This will be a walk-in service and details will be sent out with relevant biometric enrollment notification letters.