I am making this statement with my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Borders and Immigration, the member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Mr. Woolas), as part of a joint programme of work between the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and the United Kingdom Border Agency under the auspices of the immigration enforcement strategy “Enforcing the Deal”.
We are today announcing an administrative change, under the existing legal framework, in the way DVLA considers applications for UK driving licences from non-EEA nationals. There is already strong operational co-operation between DVLA and the UK Border Agency to prevent identity and immigration fraud by foreign nationals. The Government’s strategic objective is to move to a position where possession of an identity card for foreign nationals issued under the UK Borders Act 2007 becomes a qualifying criteria for non-EEA nationals wishing to obtain a UK driving licence.
As a preliminary measure, I am informing the House that from today those applying for a provisional as well as full driving licence will have to demonstrate that they are lawfully resident in the UK, not simply lawfully present, in order to qualify for a driving licence. Those who are present in the UK on temporary permission or temporary release under the Immigration Act 1971 will not be considered eligible for a driving licence. Those granted leave to enter or remain in the UK for at least 185 days will continue to be able to apply for a licence while their leave is extant, provided they otherwise qualify.
It is right that those whose status remains undecided and those without leave should not be seeking to establish the benefits of ordinary settled life in the UK, including access to driving licences. Transitional provisions will apply to those with an outstanding licence application at DVLA.