28th September 2009

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has announced a number of developments regarding its plans to issue identity cards for foreign nationals (ICFN).

UKBA intends to:-

  • Accelerate issuing cards to skilled workers with a UK sponsor extending leave under Tier 2 of the points based system (PBS) from April 2010 to January 2010.
  • Bring forward the issue of cards to highly skilled workers and temporary workers extending leave under Tiers 1 and 5 to the end of 2010.
  • Pilot biometric enrolment with the Post Office at 17 crown post office locations from October 2009.


UKBA began issuing identity cards to foreign national students and spouses or partners from outside the European Economic Area (the EEA) wishing to extend their leave in the UK in November 2008. An additional number of categories, including students under Tier 4, were rolled out in March 2009.

The process of applying for an identity card for foreign nationals requires applicants to enrol their biometrics (fingerprints and facial image) before an immigration decision is made on the grant of further leave. In order to facilitate the increased number of applicants, from October 17 crown post offices will begin piloting biometric enrolment. This will be a walk in service with no need to book an appointment. This service applies to applicants who are submitting their documents by post.

In addition to the Home Office biometric enrolment centres in Croydon, Sheffield, Solihull, Cardiff, Liverpool, Glasgow and Belfast, since the summer foreign nationals have been enrolling biometrics at four identity and passport service interview offices in Elephant and Castle (London), Brighton, Birmingham and Derby.

UKBA believes that identity cards for foreign nationals make checking whether someone has the right to work simpler.

They are designed to replace numerous other documents with a single recognisable and comprehensive proof of entitlement to work and live in the UK. UKBA describes them as “convenient, extremely secure and a widely accepted way for any foreign national to prove their immigration status”.

Please contact your Magrath representative for further guidance on ICFN.