06 May 2009

UK visa holders and citizens in Manchester will have ID cards later this year

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The Home Office has extended the new identity card scheme so that UK visa holders and British citizens will be eligible to apply for a voluntary ID card by the end of the year.

While ID cards have been available to UK visa holders, with 75,000 due to be issued by November this year.  The ID cards show the UK visa holders' right to work, live and study in Britain and are a further attempt at preventing foreign nationals from abusing the UK immigration system.

Manchester has been chosen as the first city to undertake the ID card scheme for British citizens.  In congruence with these measures, card-reading technologies will be released for service providers to purchase so that the details on the card (including biometrics) can be easily read.

Manchester Airport is also opening the first checking station in airports that will be able to read ID cards of UK visa holders arriving from overseas and UK citizens.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said that while Manchester is taking the lead in the scheme, other major cities will be following closely behind in its implementation.

"Our next steps will be for other cities to follow Manchester's lead before full national coverage from 2012. This phased approach will ensure that card coverage occurs hand-in-hand with development of supporting technology such as chip and pin readers.

"ID cards will deliver real benefits to everyone, including increased protection against criminals, illegal immigrants and terrorists."

From 2010, young people will be able to apply for the ID cards and by 2012 the general population will have access to the scheme.

Lord Peter Smith, Chair of the Greater Manchester Authorities, said that the scheme is likely to have a good response from the local Manchester population, whether they be UK visa holders or citizens.

"We are very pleased to support the Identity and Passport Service as the National Identity Service is rolled out starting here in Greater Manchester.

"We believe that citizens of Greater Manchester will welcome the chance to get an identity card early if they want one to help them prove their identity conveniently and securely."

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

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