ID Cards for Skilled Foreign Workers
Businesses will be able to assess the eligibility of skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to work in the UK from January, after the UK Borders Agency (UKBA) announced it will introduce the ID card scheme three months earlier than expected.
From January, migrants from outside the EEA with a skill level of NVQ level 3 or above (those in tier 2 under the Government’s points-based system) will be issued with ID cards which employers can use to check recruits’ eligibility to work in the UK.
Currently, an employer has to verify that the employee has the right to work in the UK and take a copy of their passport and other documentation. From January, they will have the option to check the ID card but will still be obliged to take a copy of it for their records.
Highly-skilled workers, entrepreneurs and investors from outside the EEA (classed as tier 1) and tier 5 temporary workers will also be issued with ID cards later in the year.
The points-based system was introduced in 2008 to regulate foreign workers and students coming into the UK. To obtain an ID card the worker has to provide fingerprints and a photograph, and display information about their right to work.
According to the UKBA, the ID cards, which are already being issued to students, their spouses or civil partners, domestic workers in private households, and visitors for private medical treatment, will not change the obligation on UK employers to check employees’ right to work, but will simplify the process.
“The UKBA has published guidance on checking the validity of the identity cards to ensure business owners are familiar with its design and recognise the card when it is presented to them,”
said a UKBA spokesman.
“The UKBA also has an Employers’ Verification Service phone line which can be used by organisations if there is concern over the validity of the card.”
However, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said that the ID cards will not make the checking process any easier for small firms.
“Employers already check passports and other relevant documentation, so the ID card is something that will probably help the police more than employers,” said BCC spokesman, Sam Turvey. “It doesn’t change employers’ obligations — it is just different documentation for them to check.”
Businesses which fail to carry out checks on foreign workers before recruiting them can be fined up to £10,000 per illegal employee.
For further information on ID cards, call the UKBA employers’ helpline on 0300 123 4699 or visit the UKBA website.
To verify that an ID card is valid, phone the UKBA Employers’ Verification Service on 0300 123 2412