First ID cards issued in Sheffield

The first identity cards are being issued today to foreign nationals in Sheffield.

Foreign nationals who registered to have an ID card will be able to have one if their application has been processed, home secretary Jacqui Smith announced today.

Opening the Border Agency building in Sheffield, Ms Smith said: “What I have seen today demonstrates that we are successfully delivering two of our most important changes to the immigration system.”

The home secretary also met staff working on the UK’s tough new immigration measure involving an Australian-style points system for migrant workers.

The first cards are being issued to those applying to stay in the UK as a student or spouse and all foreign nationals coming to the UK for longer than six months.

By 2014/15 it is estimated that 90 per cent of all foreign nationals will have been issued with an ID card.

The ID card will contain a facial image and fingerprints, thus locking the foreign national into a single identity.

It is hoped the ID cards will help businesses and enable a crack down on illegal working.

“ID cards will give employers a secure way of checking a migrant’s right to work and study in the UK and help people prove they are who they say are,” Ms Smith said.

The process of ID enrolment has already caught people seeking to remain in the country under false pretences. In one case a person trying to stay in the country by applying for a marriage visa was detected and sentenced to eight months in prison.

But Michael Parker of No2ID said this was just an attempt to make it look as if the ID card plans are still on track when they have in fact halted.

Speaking to politics.co.uk, Mr Parker said: “The Boarder Agency has nothing to do with ID cards and this is an attempt by the government to brand immigration as part of the plans for national identity cards.

“They are trying to make it look as if ID cards are still on track. It is coming up to 2009 and no contracts have been set up and public support for ID cards has dropped below 50 per cent.”

Foreign nationals have been able to enroll for identification cards since 25 November and will be issued with one as soon as their application is processed.