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ID card scheme for foreigns extended

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The government's much loved ID card scheme was extended yesterday - from now on Tier 2 foreign nationals will have to apply for a card if they wish to extend their stay in the UK.

Tier 2 includes skilled workers, ministers of religion, sportsmen and women, representatives of overseas businesses and dependants. Forcing three quarters of the Premier League down to the Post Office should do wonders for the popularity of the cards. People in Tier 2 were to be included in the scheme from April but this has been brought forward.

The Home Office, or rather the UK Border Agency, is working with 17 post offices to collect the biometric data needed. Migrants can pay £8 at 17 post offices, or continue to register their details for free at some UK Border Agency and Passport Service offices.

The Post Office has piloted the scheme since November and said the technology is working well and 1,432 people have already enrolled.

Post offices taking part are: Aberdeen, Beckenham, Beeston, Bracknell, Cambridge, Durham, Kingstanding, Battersea, Camden High Street, Earl’s Court, Old Street, Middleton, Oxford, Redditch, Romsey, South Shields and Stamford.

Since November 2008, when cards were required for foreign students and people with marriage visas over 130,000 cards have been issued. The inclusion of skilled workers will add a further 40,000 people a year to the scheme.

The scheme is also being trialled for British citizens in Manchester, Liverpool and Blackburn.

Guy Herbert, general secretary of lobby group No2ID told ZDNet the government already had plenty of information on the identity of Tier 2 immigrants and the scheme was superfluous and wasteful.

The Conservative party have promised to abolish the scheme should they win this year's election. ®

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