ID Cards for Foreign Nationals

The UKBA has recently introduced a scheme of compulsory ID cards for Foreign Nationals as part of it's policy to improve security and reduce illegal immigration.This scheme applies to non EEA nationals who are applying for Leave to Remain in the UK. However, it does not apply to Foreign Nationals applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (Settled Status) or to people who already have Settled Status.

The ID card contains ‘biometrics' , (biological data unique to each individual, such as finger prints/iris pattern in the eye ). It confirms the identity, nationality, and immigration status of the holder. It will be a Residence Permit and will replace the system of passport stamps (vignettes).

Which Foreign Nationals must have an ID card now?

As ID cards are being phased in, not all Foreign Nationals applying for leave in the UK will have an ID card. UKBA plan that by 2011, all Foreign Nationals from outside the EEA who are applying to extend their stay in the UK, or who are applying to come to the UK for more than six months, will be issued with an ID card.


outside the EEA who apply for Leave to Remain in the UK as spouse/ civil partner/ same sex partner/unmarried partner of a person with permanent residence in the UK, or as a student, and dependents of these individuals, have been required to also apply for an ID card.

From 31/03/09, the categories of Foreign National who must also apply for an ID card has been expanded. In addition to those categories that the scheme applied to from 25/11/08, the basic categories below must also apply for an ID card and provide their biometrics when they apply for leave in the UK.

Note: There are specific conditions which apply to each category. Check the UKBA website or Contact Us for more detailed advice on these groups.

  • Students under Tier 4 of the Points Based System (which went live on 31/03/09);

  • Postgraduate doctors & dentists;

  • Academic visitors granted leave for more than 6 months;

  • Visitors for private medical treatment where they need to extend their stay to complete the treatment;

  • Domestic workers in private households who came to the UK with a person entitled to live in the UK and are applying to extend their stay in the UK based on their employment as domestic workers;

  • Sole representatives

  • Retired persons of independent means

  • Those applying to transfer existing conditions from one immigration document to another;

  • Dependents of the above groups.

What is the application process to obtain an ID card?

Postal application:

If you make your application for LTR by post, you will receive a ‘Bio Notification letter' asking you to arrange an appointment to provide your biometrics at one of the Bio Enrolment Centres. Once you have given your biometrics, if your application for leave is successful, your ID card will be sent to you by post.

Applications in person (Premium)

If you are applying in person at a Public Enquiry Office, (Premium application), your biometrics will be taken the same day at you attend with your application and pay the fee. A decision will be made on your application the same day. If you are granted leave, your ID card will be sent to you by post.

An application for biometrics to be taken in order to obtain an ID card can be made at seven centres. The Public Enquiry Offices at Croydon, Glasgow, Liverpool, Sheffield and Solihull, and at special Biometric Enrolment Centres in Cardiff and in Armagh.

What does providing biometrics involve?

The process of providing ‘biometrics' (called ‘enrolment') takes only 5-10 minutes. It involves facial recognition for all applicants, including children and ten finger prints for all applicants age six or over.

The UKBA will compare the biometrics with information held on their databases. If your application for leave to remain in the UK is successful, you will be sent an ID card in the post about five days after you receive the letter from UKBA informing you that you have been granted leave.

If you do not provide your biometrics, your application for leave in the UK will be refused by UKBA.

Do I have to carry the card with me all the time?

You are not legally required to carry the ID card with you all the time, but, you must show it when you leave the UK and when you are returning to the UK because the card will prove that you are legally entitled to be in the UK.

For more information about how Stepstones Visas Limitedcan help with rules and applications for ID Cards Contact Us


  • Tier 1, for which the Highly Skilled
    Migrant Programme (HSMP) was a forerunner, enables highly skilled
    individuals to enter the UK to contribute
    to its economic wealth and productivity. Read more ....

  • Tier 2, is for skilled workers who
    have been offered employment in
    the UK. It has replaced the previous
    Work Permit scheme. Read more ....

  • Tier 4 is for those wishing to study in the
    UK. It has comprehensively replaced the
    Immigration Rules relating to students.
    Read more ....

  • Tier 5 is for youth mobility and temporary
    workers. Their reasons for coming to the
    UK are non-economic. Read more ....




South Asia and the Gulf Regions account for 4 out of 10 visa applications.

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