11 February 2009

UK Home Office to extend biometric ID cards to more foreign nationals

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The Home Office is putting further regulations to the Parliament today regarding the biometric identification cards for foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area applying for further leave to remain.

It means that applicants under six categories for UK immigration would need to provide fingerprints and a photograph to be used on a chip for an identification card, which will be checked by border control, police, and job centres for their eligibility to live and work in the UK.

If the Parliament approves the new regulations, the Home Office will require all applicants from the following UK immigration categories to provide biometric information in support of their applications for leave to remain:

• Academic visitors granted leave for a period exceeding six months (where the total granted leave cannot exceed 12 months),
• Visitors for private medical treatment (if the patient is required to extend their stay to complete treatment),
• Domestic workers in a private household (who have worked with UK residents and are applying to extend their stay as domestic workers),
• United Kingdom ancestry (people with Commonwealth citizenship, at least one British grandparent, and a link with the UK),
• Retired persons of independent means, and their partners and children (persons aged over 60 with funds to support themselves), and;
• Sole representatives (representing overseas companies in the UK).

Currently, these immigration categories have a stamp or vignette in their passport to prove their working rights in the UK. 

Already thousands of international students and spouses or civil or unmarried partners, and their dependents who have applied for leave to remain have applied for an identity card.  Foreign nationals seeking indefinite leave to remain and the settled population remain unaffected by the changes.

Since going live November last year, the Home Office's biometric system has successfully caught people trying to abuse the UK immigration system, and has proven its worth for protecting the UK borders from identity fraud.

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

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