Major delays in issuing biometric residence permits (BRPs) are causing undue stress for new arrivals to the United Kingdom.

Since March 2015 it has been mandatory for a non-European Economic Area national arriving in the United Kingdom for a period of more than six months to collect a BRP within 10 days of arriving. Thirty-day vignettes are initially issued to all successful applicants overseas, enabling entry to the United Kingdom within the allocated timeframe. The BRP then confirms an individual's permission to reside in the United Kingdom. In theory, a BRP should be issued before the 30-day vignette expires. However, due to the delays, some individuals are finding that they are without their BRPs and that their vignettes have also expired.

UK Visas and Immigration has advised that the delays are due to technical issues and they seem to be occurring with greater frequency following the recent changes to the way UK national insurance (NI) numbers are generated.

Depending on certain factors, such as immigration category and date of application, an NI number should now be generated for some migrants automatically and be displayed on the back of the BRP. Theoretically, this should streamline the process and assist migrants and their HR teams in the United Kingdom. However, the consequence has been a dramatic deceleration in the production of BRPs.

While Tier 2 migrants are experiencing the brunt of the delays, they are affecting individuals across all visa categories – although most dependants can collect their BRPs within the 10-day timeframe. Individuals who apply in the United Kingdom to extend their visas are also affected by the delays. In some cases, the BRP arrives between two to three weeks after the expected delivery date.

These ongoing delays are not only having an adverse effect on pre-arranged travel commitments after the expiry of the 30-day vignette, but are also causing issues for individuals looking to rent property. The right to rent check implemented in February 2015 lists BRPs as one of the acceptable documents to trigger a statutory excuse for all landlords and agencies.

It is difficult to forecast exact timings on these delays. The current procedure involves filing a report online and waiting five days for a response. Thankfully, those responses do at least appear to confirm anticipated arrival dates for the delayed BRPs.

For further information on this topic please contact Lucy Garrett at Magrath LLP by telephone (+44 20 7495 3003) or email (lucy.garrett@magrath.co.uk). The Magrath LLP website can be accessed at www.magrath.co.uk.

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.