UK immigration update: identity cards rolled out to skilled migrant workers

Identity cards have become
compulsory for a number of UK
holders (Image: UK Border

As of 6 January 2010, UK immigration identity cards are being rolled out to another category of foreign national resident in the UK: skilled workers and their dependants.

In November 2008, the compulsory identity cards were issued by the UK Border Agency to certain categories of non-European foreign nationals when they were granted permission to extend their stay in the UK.

Since then, they have twice widened the range of categories that require the identity card. As a result, the list now stands as follows:

Compulsory Identity Card Immigration Categories

  • Spouses, civil partners, unmarried or same-sex partners (i.e. certain UK family visa holders);
  • Students under Points Based System Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) (i.e. certain UK student visa holders)
  • Postgraduate doctors and dentists
  • Visitors for private medical treatment
  • Domestic workers in a private household
  • United Kingdom ancestry
  • Retired persons of independent means
  • Sole representatives
  • Transfer of conditions
  • Skilled Workers (added 6 January)
  • Ministers of Religion (added 6 January)
  • Sports Persons (added 6 January)
  • Representatives of Overseas Businesses (added 6 January)
  • Dependants (added 6 January)

If a migrant in one of these categories applies to extend their stay in the UK, they must enrol their biometrics (fingerprints and facial image) before the UK Border Agency decide whether to give them permission to stay. If their application is successful, they will be issued an identity card.

What is the UK immigration identity card for?

The card provides a simple way of confirming the holder's nationality, identity and immigration status in the UK. It shows whether they have the right to work or study legitimately under the UK's points-based system for immigration, and helps them to access public services.

The changes do not affect the settled population, foreign nationals who are seeking to settle here, or applicants in other immigration categories (who continue to receive a vignette in their passport when they extend their stay).

- Marissa Murdock is Casework Department Manager for the UK Visa Bureau.