Powers to hold foreign biometrics

Powers to compel foreign nationals in the UK to register their biometrics are being considered by the Home Office.

Jan 25, 2007
By David Howell

Powers to compel foreign nationals in the UK to register their biometrics are being considered by the Home Office.

The powers would be introduced on a rolling basis and would build on biometric IDs for foreign nationals, which will be introduced from 2008, targeting those applicants where cards will bring the greatest benefits, such as migrant workers seeking to extend their stay in the UK.

This news comes as Home Office Minister Liam Byrne published a Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme and the Borders, Immigration and Identity Action Plan, which follow the wider Home Office review earlier this year and signal the countdown to the introduction of ID cards to UK citizens in 2009.

The plans further underline how the use of identity checks and biometrics, including fingerprints, iris scans and facial recognition, will help secure Britain’s borders and crackdown on illegal working and fraudulent access to services.

Biometric ID visas are currently issued at 150 posts and by 2008 there will be in place biometric ID requirements for everyone outside the other 28 European Economic Area nations coming to the UK for work, study or to stay for longer than six months, plus anyone coming to visit from the 108 visa nations.

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said: “We’re determined that Britain won’t be a soft touch for illegal immigration. Compulsory biometric identity for foreign nationals will help us secure our borders, shut down access to the illegal jobs, which we know attracts illegal immigrants, and help fight foreign criminals.

“The technology is already making a difference, stopping illegal immigrants returning to Britain once they’ve been deported, helping trusted travellers pass securely through our borders and cutting down abuse of the asylum system.”

The Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme explains what the scheme is, what it will deliver and when, setting out how it will provide services to customers and plans for the National Identity Register. It announces plans to initiate a series of strategic partnerships across Government and the private sector that will shape the development of the scheme.

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