Q&A on ID cards for foreign nationals and the Points Based System

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Find out more information about the governments new rules for employing workers from outside the European Economic Area and how it will affect your business

Q: How will the identity cards for foreign nationals assist employers avoid taking on a person who does not have the correct permission to work?

A: The introduction of a secure identity card, which is linked directly to an individual’s personal details, provides a simpler and more secure means for employers to check whether a person is entitled to work.

Currently employers can expect to be presented with around 50 types of document and we recognise that this can be difficult for employers.

Checking an applicant’s ID card will also give employers a statutory defence against prosecution for employing illegal migrant workers.

Q:How will the identity card for foreign nationals reduce counterfeit documents?

A: We are using a tamper-proof polycarbonate card that will contain an encrypted micro-chip protected by a certification procedure which will store an individual’s unique biometric data. This will make the cards extremely difficult to counterfeit.

Q: How will identity card for foreign nationals contribute to reducing illegal working and residence?

A: The identity card for foreign nationals will be a reliable way for employers to check applicants’ eligibility to live and work in the United Kingdom.

The use of biometric identifiers will enable UKBA to identify multiple applicants who have presented using different identities and help ensure that enforcement action is undertaken swiftly in order to prevent the applicant disappearing into the black economy.

Q: When will the identity card for foreign nationals be introduced?

A: The first cards will be issued from November 25. These will be issued to those extending their stay under students and marriages/civil partnerships/ unmarried couples categories.

Points Based System - Tiers 2 and 5 Go-live

The Points Based System is the biggest shake up of the immigration system for 45 years. It replaced over 80 routes to enter the UK with a new five-tier system for immigration. The new system helps British business recruit the skills it needs from abroad as well as providing assurance to the British public that only the skilled migrants we need will be able to come to the UK.

Q: How does it affect businesses?

A. The points system is simpler than the system it replaces. Under the old system, two applications had to be made before a worker could come to the UK - one for the Work Permit and one for actual permission to come here. Under the points system, there will be just one application in which all issues will be considered. That reduces bureaucracy.

Any business must register with the UK Border Agency as a sponsor before they can bring foreign workers from outside the EEA into the UK to work. As a condition of keeping their licence, sponsors will need to alert UKBA if migrants do not comply with their immigration conditions – for example if they disappear or do not turn up for their job or course. Any sponsor that does not comply with this requirement will risk losing its licence.

Q: What happens if a business doesn’t comply?

A: If people try to use false documents to gain work they will be found out, and businesses that facilitate them will receive hefty fines. Tough new measures are already in place to prevent illegal working. Employers who knowingly take on illegal migrant workers may face an unlimited fine or a prison sentence. There is a civil penalty of up to £10k per employee for those employers who fail to make the right checks. In 2007/08 the UK Border Agency carried out more than 7,000 illegal working operations and arrested 2855 suspected immigration offenders as a result.

Q: When do the various tiers go live?

A: The implementation dates of the tiers are as follows:

Tier 1 for highly skilled individuals was fully implemented on June 30 2008;

Tier 2 for skilled workers with a job offer to fill gaps in the UK labour force launched on  November 27. Sponsors can apply to sponsor under migrants under this tier;

Tier 3 for low skilled workers to fill specific temporary labour shortages is on hold while restrictions remain in place for Romanians and Bulgarians;

Tier 4 is for students and we are working with the sector on our plans for implementation. Sponsors are now able to apply to sponsor migrants under this tier; and

Tier 5, which covers people coming to the UK to satisfy primarily non-economic objectives, launched on November 27. Sponsors are now able to apply to sponsor migrants under this tier.

Q: How soon after registering will I be able to bring in migrants?

A: All employers wishing to bring migrants from outside the EEA should apply to the UKBA as soon as possible. We will aim to process applications for sponsorship licenses within six weeks. From April 1 2009 we will process applications within four weeks.

Q:†How do I register?

A: Sponsors can register via the UKBA website. Further guidance and the application process can be accessed by visiting www.ukba.homeoffice.gov uk/employers/points/sponsoringmigrants/

Related topics: Legislation

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