Issuance of compulsory ID cards to foreign nationals to be expedited

50,000 ID cards issued already to foreign nationals legally living and working in the UK

2nd July 2009: The Home Secretary Alan Johnson has made it clear he wants the process of issuing compulsory identity cards foreign nationals to be expedited to check illegal working, while supporting legitimate workers.

He has asked the UK Border Agency to review its successful rollout of the compulsory cards to see how the process could be accelerated. As of now, 50,000 identity cards for foreign nationals have already been issued to people legally living and working in the United Kingdom.

Under the current plans, all foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) will need to have an identity card within three years, if they are coming to the United Kingdom for more than six months or extending their stay here.

The Government has also announced plans to speed up the rollout of identity cards for the British citizens. In addition to residents of Greater Manchester, who will be able to apply for an identity card before the end of this year, residents in locations across the North West will be entitled to apply from early in 2010.

Additionally, the Government has decided to make identity cards voluntary for airside workers. Under an 18-month evaluation scheme at Manchester Airport and London City Airport, airside workers will be encouraged to obtain an identity card free of charge, making it quicker and simpler for background checks to be carried out to verify their identity as part of the airside pass-issuing process.

Obtaining an identity card will also improve the movement of reference checks between employers and airports, creating greater flexibility for employers and staff.

An independent Identity Commissioner will be appointed in the near future to oversee the National Identity Service, but compulsory identity cards for foreign nationals will continue to be overseen by the Information Commissioner and the Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency.

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