Home Office
Printable version E-mail this to a friend

Foreign national ID cards roll out speeds up

Foreign national ID cards roll out speeds up

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 24 September 2009

Skilled migrants renewing their visas to stay in the UK will be issued with an ID card from the New Year the Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced today, three months ahead of schedule.

From January 2010 skilled foreign workers under Tier 2 of the Points Based System (PBS) will be issued ID cards. This brings the roll out forward from April 2010 and will add around 30,000 foreign nationals a year to those currently being issued with identity cards.

Since their introduction 90,000 cards have been issued, mainly to students renewing their visa under Tier 4 of the PBS and those renewing marriage visas.

Today’s announcement means that in addition to accelerating the roll out to include foreign nationals in the UK renewing their right to stay under Tier 2, the Government has exceeded its target to issue 75,000 cards by November 2009.

The UK Border Agency is also to trial technology at 17 Crown Post Offices to provide foreign nationals applying for identity cards with alternative and more accessible venues where they can enrol their fingerprints. The trials will start rolling out from October.

The Home Secretary said:

"Identity cards have been issued to 90,000 foreign nationals, exceeding our target by 15,000, a month ahead of schedule.

"By speeding up the roll out of the cards more people will benefit from a secure and simple way to prove they are entitled to live, work or study here and it will prevent those here illegally from benefiting from the privileges of Britain.

"Our partnership with the Post Office will provide vital extra capacity enabling the UK Border Agency to further speed up the enrolment process and give extra work to help safeguard the Post Office network. It will also give more choice and convenience to migrants about where they can enrol."

Identity cards for foreign nationals who came to the UK from outside the European Economic Area were introduced in November 2008. They require them to have their photograph and fingerprints taken, securely locking them to one identity and helping foreign nationals prove their right to live and work in the UK and businesses to crack down on illegal working.

Skilled migrants and temporary workers under Tiers 1 and 5 of the PBS, will also be brought forward from 2011 to 2010.

From October foreign nationals who are being issued with ID Cards will be given the choice of providing their fingerprints and photograph at one of the participating Crown Post Offices for a fee of £8 or at one of the UK Border Agency or Identity and Passport Service Offices currently included within the scheme, which will remain free.

The Post Office will not be making decisions on whether someone can stay in the UK and detailed checking of enrolment details will continue to be conducted by the UK Border Agency. It provides extra capacity for the UK Border Agency and gives customers an alternative for enrolment.

Alan Cook, Managing Director of the Post Office, said:

"The Post Office is very pleased to be supporting this trial as our reputation for trust and the unparalleled reach of our network means we can offer secure and efficient transfer of personal data while the potential for earning additional income would help support and sustain the nationwide branch network."

Regulations setting out the next stage of the roll out of Identity Cards for Foreign Nationals will be laid in Parliament in October.


1. The UK Border Agency started to issue biometric immigration documents, known as identity cards for foreign nationals to non-EEA nationals on 25 November 2008.

2. Currently ICFN are issued to those applying in the UK to extend their stay for more than 6 months in the following categories :

* Tier 4 (students)
* Spouses, civil partners, unmarried or same-sex partners
* A selection of application types from the ‘other category’:
* Academic visitors granted leave for a period exceeding six months
* Visitors for private medical treatment
* Domestic workers in a private household
* United Kingdom ancestry
* Retired persons of independent means
* Sole representatives
* Transfer of conditions (for those with existing limited leave transferring details from a passport or other such document into a new document)

3. It is estimated that by the end of 2014/15 about 90 per cent of all foreign nationals will have been issued with an Identity Card.

4. The Points Based System (PBS) is the biggest change to the immigration system in a generation. Approximately 80 immigration routes have been consolidated into a 5 Tier system, one of which is suspended (Tier 3).

* Tier 1 is for highly skilled workers who do not require a UK sponsor, and are applying for a UK Visa in their own right.
* Tier 2 is for skilled workers with a UK Sponsor and a UK job offer. Tier 2 was introduced in November 2008.
* Tier 3 is for low skilled workers and is currently suspended due to the current economic climate. Jobs in this sector are generally currently covered by the Workers Registration Scheme, Bulgarian and Romanian Case Work, Seasonal; and Agricultural Workers (SAWS) and workers from the EEA.
* Tier 4 is for adults and children with a School/College/University sponsor who wish to come to the UK to study.
* Tier 5 is for temporary Workers (people coming to the UK to satisfy primarily non-economic objectives). It brings together the application process for temporary workers, providing clearer indicators to the options available and making the immigration routes more transparent.


NDS Enquiries
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department

Home Office Press Office
Phone: 020 7035 3535