Applications open for first ID cards

Foreign nationals are now able to apply for identity cards after the immigration point system was activated today.

In a bid to crack down on foreign migrants working illegally they will have their facial image and fingerprints recorded so they are locked into a single identity.

Identity cards will be mandatory for all foreign nationals providing an easy and secure way to prove a foreign migrants right to work in the UK.

Companies that sponsor migrants will need to keep records of their identity card and contact details.

The first ID cards will be issued to those making applications to extend their stay as a student or a spouse and will initially start in Croydon.

Julian Gravatt, Association of Colleges Director of Funding and Development, said: “Issuing ID cards to overseas students should assist in the reduction of identity fraud.

“Colleges welcome any measure which facilitates the recruitment of genuine students to study in the UK and the economic benefits this brings.”

Ninety per cent of all foreign nationals will have an ID card by 2014/15 and within the next three years all those extending their stay in the UK will be issued with one.

Tier two and five of the immigration points system will go live this Thursday. Employers who have registered with the UK Boarder Agency will be able to bring in migrant workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

To enter the UK under tier two one must have English language skills, expect to be earning over £24,000 or slightly less if in conjunction with good qualifications and able to support themselves financially for the first month of their stay.

Under tier two, companies must pass the resident labour market test which must prove the position cannot be filled by a resident worker before bringing someone in from outside the EEA.

Tom Hadley, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s director of external relations, responded positively and said: “We welcome the extensive communication programme which has accompanied the introduction of this card. We need to ensure that all those verifying ID are aware of the appearance of the new card.”

Tier two of the points system will ensure that British job seekers get the first shot at opportunities opening up in the labour market.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith said: “The first identity cards for foreign nationals along with the launch of tiers two and five of the points system demonstrate our commitment to preventing immigration abuse and protecting the prosperity of the UK.

“In time identity cards for foreign nationals will replace paper documents and give employers a safe and secure way of checking a migrant’s right to work and study in the UK.”

New identity card enrolment centres will be established in Cardiff, Glasgow, Northern Ireland, Sheffield, Solihull and Liverpool over the next three weeks.

ID cards are expected to protect against identity fraud, illegal working, immigration terrorism and crime.

Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve described the move asa “gimmick with a price”.

He said: “We support biometric visas for foreign nationals. But these ‘ID cards’ won’t stop illegal immigration or terrorism, and they will land the taxpayer with a multi-billion pound bill. At a time of economic hardship this is the last thing taxpayer needs.”

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson Chris Huhne went further, warning the ID cards would come to be seen as a “laminated poll tax”.

“This hugely expensive scheme will have no impact on crime, terrorism, illegal immigration or illegal working as foreign nationals already have passports with visas. This intrusion on British liberty is completely unnecessary,” he said.

“Foreign nationals, who cannot vote, are perfect guinea pigs for a government wanting to test a deeply unpopular and unworkable policy.”