As the general election draws closer, immigration advisers all over the country watch closely to see what the current coalition government will do and whether they will try to implement any changes to the current immigration system.
Although Kingsley Napley has been informed that there will be no significant changes to the immigration system, we still rush to read every release with anticipation.
In a recent blog, we mentioned that the Home Office was going to introduce Biometric Residence Permits (BRP’s) for overseas applicants, but although we were advised this was imminent, we were anxious as there was no guidance on the roll out. We sent through various questions as part of the consultation process and follow up, particularly regarding who could collect the cards, and whether they would send them to legal representatives. We can happily say that the following details have now been released:
- Family members should be able to collect BRPs for each other, so long as they can present the passport and decision letter for each applicant;
- Once in the UK, it will be possible for applicants to request their BRP is sent to a different Post Office than originally specified, however, there will be a charge for this service, which we understand could be nominal;
- Provisions may be introduced for nominated University staff to collect BRPs on behalf of a group of students, and then hand out BRPs on campus, to try to avoid the Post Offices becoming overwhelmed in peak times; and
- The BRP will be the only evidence of the grant of leave. It must therefore be collected before the applicant can start work or start classes.
An opportunity to amend or abolish Police Registration?
Every year, we see the Overseas Visitors Records Office (OVRO) overwhelmed in September, with international students, as well as many secondees, making their move at that time of year. This year OVRO ran a system that required individuals to attend (and queue) twice – once within the seven day deadline to obtain an ‘appointment slip’ and again on the date of the appointment they were allocated.
With the introduction of BRPs, Police Registration nationals will be expected to attend the Post Office and collect their BRP and then also visit OVRO. As the Home Office is happy for the Post Office to oversee the collection of fingerprints (mandatory for most applications to remain in the UK) and the distribution of BRPs to new arrivals, outsourcing Police Registration would be the logical next step in order to streamline multiple visits to different locations into one visit only to the Post Office. Even better, it has been suggested that Police Registration should be abolished, now that almost all migrants will have BRPs. Either way, the admin-heavy current process needs to be reconsidered and we await an update from the Home Office on this point.