UKBA has issued more than 100,000 identity cards to overseas nationals mainly to those extending their student or spouse visas.
If proposed regulations are approved this week this will mean that from 6 January 2010 migrants from outside the European Economic Area will be issued with identity cards when they extend their visa for more than six months under the Tier 2 visa scheme. In future to apply for an extension of stay you will need to provide biometric data. The original schedule would have meant that identity cards would only have been introduced in Spring 2010.
This is following the UK Home Secretary's request that the roll-out of the identity card scheme be accelerated. In response UKBA has recommended that roll-out of the identity card scheme for Tiers 1 and 5 be brought forward from Spring 2011 to the end of 2010.
The original UKBA target was to issue 75,000 identity cards by November 2009. UKBA is also increasing capacity to deal with biometric data. There will be additional facilities at UKBA offices and at four passport interview offices. In addition it is likely that there will be a walk-in service at certain post offices. There is also an online booking service to book appointments at Home Office biometric enrolment centres.