Plea to extension of stay to require enrollment of biometrics
3rd November 2009: The UK Border Agency has clarified that from 6 January 2010, if the regulations laid in parliament this week are adopted, migrants from outside the European Economic Area will be issued with identity cards for foreign nationals when they extend their permission to stay for more than six months under Tier 2 of the points-based system. This means they will need to enroll their biometrics — fingerprints and photograph — as part of their application to extend their stay.
Initially, applicants under Tier 2 – which covers skilled workers who have been offered a job in the United Kingdom – were to apply for cards from spring next year, but the Home Secretary asked the Border Agency to look at accelerating the successful roll-out. In response, the Agency has recommended bringing forward the introduction of the identity cards for Tiers 1 and 5, from spring 2011 to the end of 2010.
So far, the UK Border Agency has issued more than 100,000 identity cards for foreign nationals, mostly to those extending as students or spouses; and regulations laid this week are, if approved, expected to accelerate the roll-out of the scheme.
As the number of cards in circulation increases, the Agency has also rolled out additional facilities for enrolling biometrics at their own offices and at four passport interview offices.
`We are in the final stages of concluding arrangements with Post Office Ltd to offer further options at selected branches – this will be a walk-in service, and customers will be informed that the service is available to them through their biometric enrolment notification letters as the participating post offices roll out,’ the Agency has asserted.
For those booking appointments at Home Office biometric enrolment centres, an online booking service has been introduced. This has increased efficiency, and has been welcomed by customers as an alternative to calling the contact centre. Customers who do not yet need to provide biometrics as part of their application can also use the online booking service to book a 'premium appointment' for a same-day decision at one of public enquiry offices.