Mon | Sep 26, 2022

ID card and stay extension

Published:Tuesday | February 23, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I am
a Jamaican who has been living in the United Kingdom. My visa is about to expire and I wish to stay. I have been told that I will need to get an identity card and I do not understand why I would need to obtain one. Could you please advise me?


Dear Peter,

Whether you will need to obtain an identity card during your stay in the UK will depend on your immigration category. I am not sure by your email as to your category. It is possible you will need to apply for an identity card for foreign nationals if you apply for permission to extend your stay in the UK. Although I am unsure what your category is, these are some categories that will need identity cards if applying to extend a stay. They are postgraduate doctors and dentists; academic visitors granted leave for a period exceeding six months; visitors for private medical treatment; domestic workers in a private household; skilled workers; sports persons; and retired persons of independent means.

It is important you note that you cannot apply for an identity card unless you are applying to extend your stay and are in one of the categories. When you apply to extend your stay in the UK, the application form will tell you whether you also need to apply for an identity card for foreign nationals.

In applying for an identity card, you will use the same form you use for your application to extend your stay. In addition, you will also need to provide your biometric information that is your fingerprints and photograph. These biometrics can be provided at a number of biometric enrolment centres throughout the UK and this is normally done by appointment.

Enrolling your biometrics

Alternatively, if you are applying to extend your stay by post, it may be possible to enrol your biometrics at a limited number of Crown post offices. If this option is used, there is no need to book an appointment as this is a walk-in service. After you have been advised to enrol your biometrics, you are usually advised if there is a post office near you that offers this facility. The process is simple and involves taking a digital photograph of your face and then involves you putting your fingers on a glass screen for scanning. The process takes less than five minutes.

If you opt to apply by post, your card will be sent to you by secure delivery which is separate from return of your documents and the decision with respect to your application. If you apply at a public enquiry office, the card will also be sent to you by secure delivery after your appointment. However, identity cards cannot be issued on the same day as your appointment. It is also worth noting you should not book any non-essential travel before you have received your card. If you do not receive your identity card within 10 working days after the date on your letter from the Home Office extending your permission to stay in the UK, you should contact them directly.

If you are successful and receive your identity card for foreign nationals, this now provides proof of your permission to stay in the UK. It shows any conditions for your stay. Furthermore, it enables you to confirm your identity and your rights, and possibly access to public services. This card must be shown to your employer if you are employed or approved education provider if you are a student prior to starting work or study. In addition, you will also need to take your identity card with you if you go abroad while you have permission to stay in the UK.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises in Jamaica. He is a Supreme Court-appointed mediator and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Email: or