Britain unveils identity card for foreigners

September 25th, 2008 - 6:50 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 25 (IANS) The British government Thursday unveiled the first identity card meant for use by all foreigners in Britain.The government plans to start issuing the credit-card-size photo identity cards from November.

The cards show the holder’s photograph, name, date of birth, nationality and immigration status and will contain a secure electronic chip holding their biometric details, including fingerprints, and a digital facial image.

The card is the government’s response to growing concern over illegal immigration and terrorism in Britain.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: “ID cards will help protect against identity fraud, illegal working, reduce the use of multiple identities in organised crime and terrorism, crack down on those trying to abuse positions of trust and make it easier for people to prove they are who they say they are.”

According to the government, within three years all foreigners applying to enter or remain in Britain will be required to have a card, with around 90 percent of them covered by 2014-15.

In issuing identity cards, the UK Border Agency will start with categories that it says have been targeted by “those wanting to abuse our immigration system”, including students and people seeking to live in Britain on the basis of marriage.

Under tough new rules, British business and education providers will have to keep records of the migrants they have sponsored, “including, in time, a copy of a migrant’s identity card”. Businesses found employing illegal workers face fines of up to 10,000 pounds per person.

The introduction of cards for foreign nationals will be followed by the first ID cards for British citizens, targeting workers in sensitive roles and locations like airports from 2009.

From 2010 ID cards will be available to young people who want them and from 2011-12 they cards will be available to the general population.

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