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The Home Office will use advertising agency M&C Saatchi to tell employers about the introduction of identity cards for foreign nationals.

The UK Border Agency will start issuing cards from 25 November 2008 to those from outside the European Economic Area applying to stay in the country as students or through marriage. About 50,000 cards will be issued by April next year, with volumes planned to rise rapidly after that.

An employer will use the scheme to check a holder's eligibility for employment, which will be shown on the card, along with a photograph to confirm his or her identity. UK Border Agency will provide a telephone verification service for the cards.

The Home Office said that M&C Saatchi is already promoting the points based system for foreign workers, which uses adverts showing a course of hurdles.

"We already work closely with business and other key stakeholders to ensure that everyone with an interest is fully informed about the introduction of identity cards for foreign nationals," said a spokesperson. "This activity will increase as we get closer to the launch date in November."

Meanwhile, the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) says it has spent £76,250 on mylifemyid, a website researching 16-25 year olds' views on the National Identity Scheme. This group will be offered cards on a voluntary basis from 2010, although at very low levels, with significant numbers issued in 2011.

The spending on the mylifemyid site included £47,855 on creating and administering the site, the Central Office of Information procurement fee, plus the costs of staff from the vendor, Virtual Surveys, attending a launch event in London attended by the home secretary. £25,750 was spent on buying advertising banners on sites viewed by 16-25 year olds and £2,644.85 spent on IPS staff costs.

The site opened on 9 July, and is planned to close on 15 October. The IPS document says it aims to attract 2,000 users, which would mean the cost of obtaining each targeted response is £37.63. As of 5 August, the site had tracked 17,543 unique visitors, 50,358 total visitors, 1,003 members and 2,720 community posts.

"The mylifemyid website was created to inform us of how best to phase the delivery of identity cards to young people in 2010," said an IPS spokesperson.

"Mylifemyid has enabled IPS to gain a wide range of views from its target 16-25 age group in order to understand how identity issues affect young people's lives and how we can best ensure the identity card helps make their lives easier."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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