Preventing Illegal Working – ID cards for foreign nationals and other recent immigration changesMonday, October 13th, 2008
On 25 September 2008, the Home Secretary revealed the design of the UK Identity Cards that will be issued first to foreign nationals from 25 November 2008. It is a credit-card sized document that will show the holder’s digitised photograph, name, date of birth, nationality, immigration status and, in an electronic chip, biometric details, including fingerprints and a digital facial image.
The identity card for foreign nationals is the first part of the Home Office’s national identity scheme and will be phased in over the next three years for all those coming to the UK for more than six months or extending their stay in the UK.
From 25 November 2008, applicant’s fingerprints and photographs will be taken at six centres (Croydon, Sheffield, Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff, and Glasgow) as part of the process of deciding whether someone has the right to stay in the country. As well as confirming the holder’s identity and immigration status, the card will help employers to check whether the holder is entitled to work in the UK and to provide themselves with a statutory excuse against liability for a civil penalty, fine or even imprisonment for employing an illegal migrant worker. Not all foreign nationals will have a card from November 2008. A national passport that has been endorsed by the UK Border Agency will continue to be acceptable if it is valid during the three-year transition period. A photocopy of the identity cards presented prior to the commencement of employment must be made and retained, as with all other documents that are examined.
Detailed guidance on how to check the validity of a card and describing its security features is available in a new pdf document. The link is provided below. The Business Link website also provides tools to help employers check documents that are provided by migrant workers.
The first Identity Cards for British citizens will be issued in 2009, targeting workers in sensitive roles and locations like airports. From 2010, they will be made available to young people who want them and, from 2011/12, they will become generally available.
The issuing of new Identity Cards is the latest of a number of measures that have been introduced during 2008 by the UK Border Agency. Other developments include the following.
By 14 January 2008, all applicants for UK visas worldwide were being fingerprinted at the time of application.
On 29 February 2008, new statutory requirements for employers were introduced.
- a strengthened system of civil penalties for employers who engage illegal migrant workers, with a penalty of up to £10,000 for each illegal worker
- a new criminal offence of knowingly using illegal migrant labour, carrying a maximum two-year prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine
- a requirement for employers to check the ongoing entitlement of migrant workers to work in the UK.
To avoid incurring a civil penalty because of taking on an illegal immigrant, employers must provide themselves with a “statutory excuse”. To do this they must undertake specified “List A” document checks at the point of recruitment and specified “List B” document checks at least once every twelve months for those employees with limited leave to enter or remain in the UK.
In May 2008, the Home Office announced that, in the first 80 days of the new prevention of illegal working regime, 137 businesses had been issued with Notices of Potential Liability worth almost half a million pounds.
Also from 29 February 2008, revised immigration application forms came into use and a new points-based immigration system was introduced for highly-skilled (Tier 1) foreign nationals (i.e. outside of the EEA and Switzerland). Tier 1 was fully in place by the end of June 2008 and replaced eight former immigration categories.
Migrants must pass a points-based assessment before they are given permission to enter or remain in the UK. The system consists of five tiers, each with a different points requirement, and replaces the work permit system. Points are awarded to reflect the migrant’s ability, experience, age and, where appropriate, the level of need of the sector within which the migrant is to work.
The five tiers are:
Tier 1 highly skilled workers, e.g. scientists and entrepreneurs
Tier 2 skilled workers with a job offer, e.g. teachers and nurses
Tier 3 low skilled workers filling specific temporary labour shortages, e.g. construction workers for a particular project
Tier 4 students
Tier 5 youth mobility and temporary workers, e.g. musicians coming to play in a concert.
Migrants applying under tiers 2 to 5 must be sponsored if their application is to be successful.
- An employer wishing to sponsor migrant workers under tiers 2 and 5 must apply for and hold a sponsor licence. These two tiers open at the end of November 2008.
- Under tier 4, the sponsor has to be a UK-based educational institution that teaches migrants. No date has yet been published for this tier to open.
- Tier 3 is currently closed.
Checking identity cards for foreign nationals
Identity Cards for Foreign Nationals
Resources and tools
National Identity Scheme delivery plan
Sponsorship under the points-based system
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