In March 2015, the UK Home Office will start issuing Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) to non-EEA/Swiss nationals who apply from abroad for a UK visa with validity of more than 6 months. This new procedure will be implemented in phases over a 4-month period.
Biometric Residence Permits
By providing BRPs for this group of applicants, the UK will become compliant with a 2008 EU Council Regulation dictating that non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals be issued a Residence Permit ID Card that is in a uniform European format and includes biometric data (i.e. fingerprints and a photograph). The UK has already been issuing this type of residence permit card to non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who either extended their stay in the UK, or amended the purpose of their stay.
Currently non-EU/EEA/Swiss applicants who file their application from abroad for visas with validity longer than 6 months receive a visa sticker in their passport through the UK mission abroad, with validity in line with the full duration of the residence authorization that has been obtained. Once they obtain their visa, the immigration process for most nationals is complete (with the exception of some nationals who are required to register with the police upon arrival).
Once the new process has been rolled-out, applicants from abroad will receive a travel vignette with only 30 days validity instead of receiving the aforementioned visa sticker. The holder of such a vignette will subsequently need to visit a designated UK-based Post Office within 10 days of arrival to the UK to collect the BRP. It is unknown at this time if a delivery service or third-party collection will become available as alternative. Practices in other EU countries vary widely with respect to this – some countries deliver the card by mail, others require biometric identification in order to be able to collect the residence permit card.
Holders of the travel vignette are allowed to travel abroad before the BRP is collected and are allowed to start their employment.
Visa fees are not immediately affected by the implementation of the BRP, but readers should note that the UK authorities usually revise their visa fees on an annual basis in early April.
ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS
Employers should be aware of their employee’s requirement to collect the BRP within 10 days of arrival in the UK. If the employee will start their employment before they collect the BRP, he/she will need to be able to show a valid travel vignette for the right to work check. For those situations a second right to work check will need to take place once the BRP has been collected. Copies of both documents should be kept on file.
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