The 2023 Guide to the Biometric Residence Permit
When you are looking to move to the UK for work, business, or family reasons you will soon encounter immigration solicitors talking about biometrics or a biometric residence permit, and you will probably be uncertain about what they are referring to.
In this 2023 guide to the biometric residence permit, our immigration solicitors look at what a biometric residence permit is and why and when you need one if you are seeking UK entry clearance.
UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors
What is a biometric residence permit or BRP?
BRP is the shortened name for the biometric residence permit so you tend to find that immigration solicitors refer to the abbreviated BRP, adding to the confusing array of abbreviations when you are navigating an application for a spouse visa or a work visa, such as a skilled worker visa.
A biometric residence permit is a crucial identity document – it is important to both the Home Office (for security reasons) and to you as an individual seeking entry clearance or applying for most types of visas to enter or remain in the UK. The small bit of plastic is evidence of your right to live and, subject to your visa and its work and study conditions, to work and study in the UK.
The permit is a bit of plastic, the size of a credit card but it is just as important as your passport or other identity documents. It contains a chip to enhance security so you can use the BRP as evidence of identity when applying for work or opening a bank account.
What does a biometric residence permit do?
A biometric residence permit contains your:
- Personal information – your identity and details such as your name, date of birth and place of birth
- Biometric information – your photograph and fingerprints
- Immigration status – visa length and conditions of stay
With this information, the biometric residence permit is intended to evidence your right to live in the UK and, subject to visa conditions, to work or study in the UK.
What are biometrics?
Biometrics are means of identification and every biometric residence permit contains your photograph and fingerprints.
Biometric residence permits have moved on in sophistication since they were first introduced by the Home Office. The information the Home Office now hold on visa applicants means that there is no longer a requirement for visa holders, whatever their nationality, to register their presence in the UK with the police.
How to apply for a biometric residence permit
Although it is assumed that you need to apply for a biometric residence permit, immigration solicitors advise that an application isn’t necessary. That’s because when you make certain types of visa or settlement applications the biometric residence permit is automatically generated provided that:
- You supply your biometric information at an approved centre
- The Home Office approves your visa application
Who needs a biometric residence permit?
If you enter the UK on a 6-month visitor visa you don’t need a biometric residence permit but most other people seeking UK entry clearance need a BRP. The list includes:
- UK entry clearance for more than 6 months
- UK visa extension for more than 6 months
- Transfer of a visa to a new passport
- British citizenship application
Getting a biometric residence permit
It is often assumed that if you are applying for a spouse visa, student visa, or skilled worker visa you need your BRP before you can travel to the UK. That isn’t correct. If you applied for your visa from outside the UK the rules are that you collect your biometric residence permit once you are in the UK.
There are time limits to collecting your biometric residence permit. The rules say you must collect the BRP before:
- The vignette sticker in your travel document expires or
- 10 days of arriving in the UK have expired
Whichever date is the later of the 2 dates.
BRPs are collected from post offices if your visa application was made from outside the UK. If a visa application or an extension application was made from within the UK, the BRP is sent by the Home Office to the address used in the visa application.
If you don’t collect your BRP from the designated post office you could receive a fine of up to £1000 or your visa could be cancelled.
Updating your biometric residence permit
Whilst your fingerprints won't change, other information might, like your surname (if you get married or divorced) or if you move address. If the details on your BRP change, you need to report the change to the Home Office.
If you are not sure if you need to report a change to the Home Office then it is best to check with your immigration solicitors. That’s because not complying with biometric residence permit rules could affect your immigration record.
Reporting errors on a biometric residence permit
Mistakes happen and if your BRP contains errors you need to report the mistake to the Home Office. You only have 10 days to report an error from the date of receipt of your BRP.
Do you have questions about your biometric residence permit?
If you have questions about the biometric residence permit process or if you are not sure about the best visa to meet your circumstances then our individual immigration solicitors can help you with all your spouse visa, student visa, and skilled worker visa queries and support you through the visa application process.
If you are worried about a change of circumstances, such as the loss of a sponsored job or the end of your relationship, and the impact on your skilled worker visa or spouse visa, then our specialist immigration lawyers can advise you on your options. For example, if your marriage has broken down because of domestic violence you may qualify for the domestic violence concession and be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain even though you don’t meet the 5-year residence requirement. For example, if you have lost your job, you may be able to secure another job with an employer with a sponsor licence or switch visas to a non-sponsored route.
UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors