The government has doubled the number of people required to have a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to stay in the UK, raising the number to 400,000 a year.

The announcement made on February 27, 2012 by Immigration Minister Damian Green is about a move to help combat illegal working in the UK and abuse of the benefit system. Under the expansion of the program, all non-European Economic Area nationals applying to remain in the UK for more than six months will now be covered by the compulsory permits.

BRPs hold a person's fingerprints and photograph on a secure chip, which can be used to check information on each individual's work and benefits entitlements. Employers will soon be able to access an online Employers Checking Service (ECS) for BRPs from June, with public authorities later in the year, to confirm whether individuals are eligible to work in the UK as well as their rights to access services.

Damian Green said: "This will help ensure only those with the right to be here can take a job legally in the UK and enjoy the services to which they are entitled… The new measures are a deterrent to all foreign nationals who are looking to exploit the UK for personal gain by breaking the law."

The Post Office is to support the extension by rolling out a network of biometric enrolment sites to have fingerprints and photographs taken, with the aim of adding 87 to the existing 17 sites by mid-April...

Why not just expand the program to all residents?