What is the Biometric Residence Permit?
The Biometric Residence Permit is a form of proof of the holder’s right to stay, work or study within the UK and helps identify the immigration status and entitlements of card holders. Biometrics are a set of physical characteristics which can only identify you. It does not need to be carried at all times but is required alongside the passport when entering and leaving the UK. It is valid for the same duration as the visa, with a maximum of 10 years and is available upon collection within 30 days of being issued from within the UK.
What does it look like?
The BRP is regulated by the European Union and is shaped similarly to a credit card including a chip. The permit contains both biographic details, including the individuals name, age and place of birth, as well as biometric information such as digital photographs and fingerprints. The permit also includes information about the type of permit provided, how long it is valid and from when, the biometric chip, holder’s nationality and a unique permit number. This is all the relevant information required to find out eligibility of the holder and to how far their rights will stretch. Not only is this more convenient, rather than carrying a load of immigration paperwork everywhere you go, but will make the work load for immigration solicitors a lot less.
Change in the law
Since November 2008, Biometric Residence Permits have been a requirement for all non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals who are granted leave to enter for over 6 months into the UK. Prior to the 18th March 2015, they were only granted to students and their family members who required an extension on their immigration permission within the UK. However since March 2015, BRPs are now required from all those who are applying for visas in or outside of the United Kingdom.
The change in the law has had an impact on immigration within the country. UK immigration commented that the introduction of the BRP ‘provided a more secure, streamlined and faster method for applicants and businesses to verify someone’s identity and right to be in the UK. As for the employers within the UK, their life would become a lot easier and a weight would be lifted off their shoulders when considering eligibility of the individuals. Not only would it be time effective, saving them to look through all the individuals’ documents, but it would make it less likely to employ someone who is illegally in this country, saving their liability. On a larger scale, the employment of illegal immigrants would be minimised as the incorrect people would not be employed. This would then allow the issue of immigration into the UK to be focused on and reduce and limit the flow of people into the country.
On the other hand however, the migrant’s point of view in relation to these changes may not be as positive. Once the visa has been granted, the migrant has 30 days to come into the UK, where a temporary vignette would be printed on their passport. They will then have the month to come into the UK to receive their BRP and if not made on time, they would need to reapply for this permit. This has caused a bit of confusion for the migrants as many are confusing the 30-day vignette with the actual visa itself. However, I am sure with immigration solicitors taking extra time to explain to the individuals that this is not the visa itself migrant would then be able to plan they time for relocating to the UK.