Home Office begins asking residence permit holders to register for eVisas

Department presses on with implementation of wider plan to eliminate all physical immigration documents with digital versions, which government claims are more secure and can help combat fraud and abuse

The Home Office has begun the process of asking all holders of biometric residence permit to register for a new digital eVisa.

The permits are typically issued automatically to foreign nationals that apply to come to the UK to live or work for more than six months, to settle here permanently, or to transfer an existing visa from an expiring passport to a new document. Biometric residence permits (BRPs) are issued as physical documents and can be used by holders to verify their identity, and their rights to live, work or access benefits in this country.

As part of a wider plan to eliminate all physical immigration documents and replace them with digital-only versions over the next 18 months, the government last week began sending emails to BRP holders. The communication asks recipients to register for an online account with UK Visas and Immigration – through which they will be able to access the eVisa which will replace the BRP. Citizens’ existing immigration status and rights will be replicated under the new system, the government said.

Invitations to register to obtain the new digital document are being sent out in phases, with all existing BRP holders due to be contacted by “summer 2024”, according to the Home Office. Due to the intention to replace them with eVisas, most BRPs are due to expire at the end of this year. Even after obtaining an eVisa, BDP holders are advised that they should continue to carry their permit with them until it expires.

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The eVisa, like the physical document it replaces, is linked to the holder’s biometric data. Organisations using the digital record to check an individual’s rights or identity can do so via “one quick and simple check using a secure online service on GOV.UK”, according to the government.

It added that the digital immigration records “are central to making the UK safer by reducing the risk of fraud, loss and abuse of physical documents… [and] will pave the way for increased automation to deliver the government’s vision for a contactless border”.

Minister for legal migration and the border Tom Pursglove added: “We’ve already taken really significant steps to digitally transform the border and immigration system, and this wider rollout of eVisas is a key part of that process. Replacing physical immigration documents with eVisas will ensure firm control over who comes here to live, work or study, strengthening border security and preventing abuse of the immigration system, while delivering cost savings for UK taxpayers.”

Those who already hold an eVisa will not be impacted by this process and do not need to do anything, the government indicated.

Sam Trendall

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