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News 2008
News ->First British identity cards issued as points system go-live in the UK

First British identity cards issued as points system go-live in the UK
(25 November 2008)

New British ID Card for foreign nationalsForeign nationals will begin applying for identity cards today. Their facial image and fingerprints are taken to securely lock them to one identity and help businesses crack down on illegal working. Later this week stringent new rules to bring in workers to the UK through Tiers 2 and 5 of the points system will also begin. Shadow Home Secretary, Dominic Grieve, said: "This is a gimmick but it's a gimmick with a price. 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."

Identity cards will be mandatory for all foreign nationals and provide a simple secure means of proving a foreign national's right to work to businesses. Companies will have to keep records of the migrants they have sponsored - including their contact details and a copy of their identity card.

Starting in Croydon, the first identity cards will be issued to people making applications to remain in the UK as a student or based on marriage. All new foreign nationals and those extending their stay will have a card within three years. It is estimated that by the end of 2014/15 about 90% of all foreign nationals will have been issued with one.

This Thursday, 27 November, Tiers 2 and 5 of the points system will go live. From this date employers who have registered with the UK Border Agency will be able to bring in migrant workers from outside European Economic Area (EEA) under the scheme.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: "The first identity cards for foreign nationals along with the launch of Tiers 2 and 5 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

"The Australian-style points system will ensure only those we need - and no more - can come here. It is also flexible, allowing us to raise or lower the bar according to the needs of business and taking population trends into account."

Under Tier 2 companies must pass the Resident Labour Market test by proving they cannot fill the post with a resident worker before they can bring in someone from outside the EEA. Tiers 2 and 5 will sweep aside around 30 different routes to the UK, including the old work permit system. Tier 2 of the points system will ensure that British jobseekers get the first shot at jobs and only those foreign workers we need will be able to come to the UK.

To get in under Tier 2 skilled foreign workers must have:

* English language skills;
* prospective earnings of more than £24,000, or slightly less if they have a decent qualification - or an offer of a job on the shortage list;
* enough money to support themselves for the first month of their stay.

Tier 5 covers those travelling temporarily to the UK for primarily non-economic reasons, such as sportspeople, entertainers and charity workers. To ensure entertainers continue to contribute to British cultural life, those coming to the UK for permit-free gigs or festivals - such as the Edinburgh Fringe - will be assessed outside of the points system under visitor visa rules.

The National Identity Scheme will help protect against identity fraud, illegal working and immigration, crime and terrorism, and those trying to abuse positions of trust and make it easier for people to prove they are who they say they are. For any employer who breaks the rules and employs foreign nationals who have no right to work in the UK, the outcome is clear - huge fines are already being handed out by the UK Border Agency. This year's much tougher enforcement campaign has already issued over 1,000 fines worth around £9.7 million.

Tier 1 of the points system, for highly skilled migrants, was introduced in February this year and Tier 4, which covers students, will follow at the beginning of 2009. Tier 3, which covers low skilled routes, will only be used if specific shortages are identified that cannot be filled from the UK's domestic or European labour force.

The Home Office has also released a short film on YouTube to explain how the new scheme works, visit for more details.

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