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Foreign national identity cards roll out speeds up

Skilled migrants renewing their visas to stay in the United Kingdom will be issued with an identity 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 will be issued identity 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 points-based system and those renewing marriage visas.

Today’s announcement means that in addition to accelerating the roll out to include foreign nationals in the United Kingdom 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.

Identity cards for foreign nationals who came to the United Kingdom 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 United Kingdom and businesses to crack down on illegal working.

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