The Home Office will shortly be rolling out Biometric Residence Permits (BRP) (otherwise known as BID) for all visa applicants applying to enter the UK from overseas. This BRP is a plastic card which will have details on it of the applicant’s visa type and visa validity dates. There will be a phased introduction once the legislation has been approved by Parliament and an upgraded visa application system has been introduced, with Pakistan being proposed as the first country to go live with the new process.

There are no confirmed dates, however, the Home Office has indicated that the first roll out should occur in March this year, followed a month later by a second roll-out in India, China and 32 other countries in April and a roll out in the United States a month later, at the end of May. All remaining countries will implement the new process two months later at the end of July.

Whilst detailed guidance on the new process is expected imminently, we have been able to obtain the following overview of the new process:-

  • All applicants applying overseas for a visa of more than six months’ duration will receive a notification letter with details of where to obtain the BRP once they arrive in the UK
  • In order to enter the UK, applicants will be issued with a 30 day short term travel visa vignette in their passport, which will be valid from their intended date of travel to the UK. If the applicant’s intended travel date is delayed after they have submitted their visa application, then they may need to apply for a further 30 day travel visa at a cost of £109. This may take up to 15 days to be issued
  • Within 10 days of arriving in the UK applicants will be required to attend their nearest designated post office with their passport in order to collect their BRP. The post office selected will be based on the UK address which the applicant will have inserted on their visa application (this can be a work address)

Those applicants applying for visas from within the UK will already be familiar with the process although for these applicants the BRPs are sent through the post to the applicant or their nominated legal representative. With the roll out of the new process for applicants applying from overseas, there are no plans for legal representatives to be able to collect the BRP from the post office on behalf of the applicant nor be sent the BRP by post. However, a procedure will be put in place so that a nominated third party, approved by the Home Office, may collect the BRP on behalf of the applicant in exceptional circumstances, eg medical incapacity, visiting VIPs and refugee support. The Home Office will arrange the third party collection with the relevant post office branch and provide a letter of authorisation for the post office official to be able to conduct an identity check.

Sponsors and migrants will need to be aware of these changes and the implications if travel to the UK is delayed for any reason. It will be important for migrants to ensure they collect their BRP within 10 days of arrival to avoid incurring a penalty charge of £125.