Foreign nationals will be forced to carry ID cards, as part of new measures to strengthen border controls, the Home Office announced today.
Immigration minister Liam Byrne said foreign nationals will need ID cards to work or claim benefits, restricting access to those qualified.
The measure was announced as part of a raft of measures to tighten security, alongside new visa controls and the increased use of biometric data.
"Compulsory ID cards for foreign nationals will be a vital buttress of our defences giving businesses and public services the choice to check whether someone is who they say they are," Mr Byrne said.
However, human rights group Liberty has raised concerns the measures mark the first stage of a nationwide rollout of compulsory ID cards.
Furthermore, Liberty's policy director Gareth Crossman warned: "When ethnic minorities are repeatedly targeted to present identification the end result is resentment and discontent."
Other measures announced under Securing the UK border include a US-style visa programme, whereby individuals can be identified and refused entry to the UK before they even arrive. This will be enabled by increased use of biometric data.
Mr Byrne continued: "It is essential that we have a fair and effective migration system, trusted by the public as a whole and those who rely on it.
"The days when border control started at the white cliffs of Dover are over. Our immigration control needs to start well before people come anywhere near British shores."
The government also announced tougher sanctions for sponsors of family visas, meaning the sponsor would have to vouch for immigrants and agree to maintain them, as well as being held responsible if they break the law.
Foreign nationals entering the UK on a marriage visa must now be 21 years old, as must their sponsor. The government also confirmed it will consult on controversial plans to require foreign spouses to speak English before entering the UK.
The Home Office will set up a migration advisory committee, which will recommend to ministers where migrant labour could fill gaps in the labour market. A new Migration Impacts Forum, jointly chaired by Mr Byrne and communities minister Phil Woolas, will also look at the wider impact of immigration on communities.