Britain Introduces ID Cards For Foreigners

Britain introduces ID cards for foreigners

Pretoria News
December 12, 2008 Edition 1

An illegal immigrant was caught out by fingerprint technology on the first day that a new identity card centre for foreign nationals became operative in the UK. The Indian man from Luton had applied to stay on in Britain on the basis of a common law relationship with a British citizen.

When he was electronically fingerprinted for his card, he came up as a possible match with a failed asylum seeker of the same name.

He was arrested and admitted to police that he had previously made a bogus asylum application with a false date of birth. He pleaded guilty to seeking permission to remain in the UK by deception and is being remanded in custody until January 8 when he will be sentenced.

British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said the new identity cards would ensure that foreign nationals living, working and studying in Britain legally could prove their identity easily. However, it would also make it much harder for people to use false or multiple identities.

“This case shows that the scheme is already working, and that with tough enforcement by UK Border Agency officials, those who don't play by the rules will be caught out,” she said.

Identity cards will be mandatory for all foreign nationals. Foreign nationals making applications to remain in the UK as a student or based on marriage will have their facial images and fingerprints recorded before being issued with identity cards.

All new foreign nationals and those extending their stay will have a card within three years. It is estimated that by the end of 2014/15 about 90% of all foreign nationals will have been issued with one.

The British government began its identity card programme for foreign nationals last month after six years of debate over whether the costly plan was an effective tool against terrorism, identity theft and welfare fraud.

The last time Britain had ID cards was at the end of World War 2.

Foreign nationals living and working in Britain will not be affected immediately. – Sapa-AP