From 14 December 2010, applicants under the named categories who successfully apply to extend their stay in the UK will have to be issued with a Biometric Residence Permit. Consequently, all applicants and their dependants will need to enrol their biometric data as part of the process. It is worth noting that applications made prior to 14 December 2010 will remain unaffected by the changes.
Replacing the vignette sticker, Biometric Residence Permits have become increasingly popular as a mode of identity for foreign nationals. They are already being issued to the Tier 4 and Tier 2 categories of the Points Based System.
What exactly is a Biometric Residence Permit?
A Biometric Residence Permit is an identity card, about the size of a credit card, and confirms the holder's nationality, identity and the UK immigration category that they are under. It evidences a foreign national’s right to work or study legitimately under the UK's Points Based System.
Biometric data, a set of unique physical characteristics such as facial images and fingerprints, are stored on the permit.
Why has the UKBA decided to extend the use of Biometric Residence Permits?
The main reason behind justifying the increase in the use of Biometric Residence Permits is simply that employers can rely on them as an assured and efficient method of identifying an overseas national’s right to work in the UK. Additionally, with the possession of a Biometric Residence Permit, foreign workers can readily demonstrate they are in the UK legally and allowed to take employment or access other entitlements in the UK.
With the coalition government confirming abolition of the introduction of Identity cards for UK nationals, it seems ironic that the UKBA is developing a reliance of identity cards for foreign nationals. Nonetheless, they serve a more fundamental legal purpose for overseas migrants and will help clarify their status in the UK.
How does the system work?
When an individual in any of the above categories applies to extend their stay in the United Kingdom, they will be required to book an appointment to go to one of the UKBA’s biometric enrolment centres to have their photograph taken and their fingerprints scanned and recorded. If they make a postal application after they have submitted their application, they will be sent a letter from the UKBA inviting them to book an appointment to give their biometric information. It is worth highlighting that submitting biometrics alone is not an indication that the application will be approved by the UKBA.
If the application is successful, the identity card will then be posted to the applicant by secure delivery, separately from the decision about their application and return of their documents.
Applicants now also have the option of enrolling their biometrics at one of the designated post offices UK wide. This is a walk-in service, without the need to book a prior appointment. Nevertheless, the service is only available at designated locations. Applicants who use the service will need to pay an additional administration fee to the Post Office.
Currently, applications take approximately six weeks for processing with the standard postal service. If an applicant makes a premium application by personal appointment at one of the Public Enquiry Offices, they will be able to give their biometric information at the same time and be informed of the decision within 24 hours. The identity card will be sent to the applicant by secure delivery after their appointment. Please note that identity cards will not be issued on the same day as the appointment.
Advice to applicants
The changes are nothing to worry about, as Newland Chase has been assisting applicants in other categories with their extension applications and the procedure is now well embedded in the UKBA processing system.
Applicants are advised to submit for extensions in good time, due to the long processing times of a standard application. Newland Chase is able to arrange fast-track appointments at the Public Enquiry Offices where possible, and accompany applicants through the process.
For further information, go to www.newlandchase.com