26 September 2008

First ID card unveiled by UK Home Office

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The first UK Identity Card was unveiled yesterday by the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

The Identity Card is designed for foreign nationals on UK visas and will hold biometric data and personal details.  The holder’s photograph, name, date of birth, nationality and immigration status, as well as an electronic chip that contains fingerprints, a digital facial image and other biometric data will be stored on the card.

Ms Smith said the cards would work towards creating more secure borders by preventing identity fraud, illegal working and multiple identities who work in terrorist organisations and criminal circles.

"ID cards for foreign nationals will replace old-fashioned paper documents, make it easier for employers and sponsors to check entitlement to work and study, and for the UK Border Agency to verify someone's identity. This will provide identity protection to the many here legally who contribute to the prosperity of the UK, while helping prevent abuse," Ms Smith said.

Foreign nationals will be required to apply for identity cards as of the 25 November 2008.  By 2011, all foreign nationals applying for leave to enter or remain in the UK will be required to have a card.  By this time, all businesses and educational institutions will have to have a copy of the identity card of any foreign nationals they have sponsored.

From 2009, the first category of UK nationals will be required to get identity cards, including workers in sensitive roles such as employees of an airport.  By 2010, young UK nationals will be allowed to apply for the card and after twelve months the general population will have access to the scheme.

Tom Hadley, Director of External Relations of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said the cards will be an important feature of the UK workplace as they will work towards ensuring an honest working environment.

"Within this context measures to simplify the checking requirements can be welcomed and must be backed with an extensive communication programme. Recruiters take their responsibilities to verify an individual's right to work in the UK extremely seriously and support initiatives to enhance safe and ethical recruitment," said Mr Hadley.

Border Security has said that 2.8 million British visa applicants have already been fingerprinted, 3,500 people have been charged with identity fraud, and over 12.5 million biometric e-passports have been issued during the past 24 months.


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

Article by Jessica Bird, UK Visa Bureau.


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