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Identity Cards: Foreigners

Volume 475: debated on Monday 28 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what characteristics distinguish the identity cards to be issued to foreign nationals from the visas that are currently issued to them. (201235)

The identity card for foreign nationals will be a highly secure polycarbonate card which will contain the holder’s biometric identifiers in a tamperproof embedded chip including a photograph and two fingerprints. The visas issued contain photographs but unlike the cards do not store the fingerprints that are enrolled when an application is made outside the UK. The biometric data collected as part of the visa application process are checked against immigration records in the UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which categories of foreign nationals require visas; which categories will be issued with identity cards in future and from what date; and which categories will be required to obtain the relevant documentation (a) before and (b) after entry to the UK. (201236)

The categories of foreign nationals requiring visas can be found on the following website: along with the documentation required to support applications for entry clearance to the UK. Non-visa nationals from outside the EEA will normally only require entry clearance if visiting the UK for longer than six months. The rollout strategy document Introducing Compulsory Identity Cards for Foreign Nationals’ published on 6 March (a copy is available in the House Library) sets out the approach to issuing identity cards for foreign nationals. We will phase in the introduction of the card, starting with those applying for leave to remain as students. Within three years all new applicants will have to apply for an identity card alongside their immigration application.