03 July 2009

Identity cards for UK visa holders

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The Home Secretary has asked the UK Border Agency to review its programme of issuing compulsory identity cards for foreign nationals, to see how the process can be accelerated.

UK visa holders' identity card

Identity cards have been issued to 50,000 UK visa holders.

There are some 50,000 identity cards for foreign nationals already issued to people who have work permits and some other  UK visas.

Under current plans, within three years all foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) will need to have an identity card if they are coming to the United Kingdom for more than six months or extending their stay here.

The Government has also announced plans to speed up the rollout of identity cards for British citizens. In addition to residents of Greater Manchester, who will be able to apply for an identity card before the end of this year, residents in locations across the North West will be entitled to apply from early in 2010.

Additionally, the Government has decided to make identity cards voluntary for airport workers. Under an 18-month evaluation scheme at Manchester Airport and London City Airport, airport workers will be encouraged to obtain an identity card free of charge, making it quicker and simpler for background checks to be carried out to verify their identity as part of the airside pass-issuing process. Obtaining an identity card will also improve the movement of reference checks between employers and airports, creating greater flexibility for employers and staff.

An independent Identity Commissioner will be appointed in the near future to oversee the National Identity Service, but compulsory identity cards for foreign nationals will continue to be overseen by the Information Commissioner and the Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency.


The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK visas and immigration services.


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