Biometric residence permits have been a requirement for non EU/EEA nationals applying for UK visas from within the UK since November 2008. It is now a requirement for non EEA nationals applying for a visa from outside the UK as well. Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) for visa applications from abroad began being issued in March 2015, starting with applications made from Pakistan. BRPs are now being issued by the UK Home Office to 'Stage 2' countries (see list below). BRPs are now required for visa applications for all immigrants from non-EEA nations applying to stay in the UK for longer than six months.
Introduction of BRPs for overseas UK visa applications
UK Immigration had the following to say about the introduction of BRPs in March this year:
…BRPs provide a more secure, streamlined and faster method for applicants and businesses to verify someone's identity and right to be in the UK….
However, the changes seem to come as part of a larger system of changes designed to allow the government to keep a closer watch on immigration in and out of the country.
Instead of the previous vignette system, migrants receive a temporary vignette valid for a thirty day window in their passport for entry to the UK. The thirty-day vignette will allow successful applicants to collect their BRPs in the UK. The Biometric Residence Permit, contains full details of the terms and duration of the applicant's visa in the UK.
Applying for a Biometric Residence Permit
To apply for a BRP, an immigrant must supply a postcode and thirty-day travel window with their application. Following the application, they are required to enrol their biometric details and submit relevant documents during an appointment at a Visa Application Centre (VAC). If successful, the passport will be returned with the thirty-day vignette to the applicant. Along with the travel documents, a letter containing details of the visa and BRP collection point will be sent.
Uses of a Biometric Residence Permit
A BRP will be needed when providing proof of entitlement to work, benefits or public services. It provides confirmation of the holder's immigration status in the UK.
Stage 1 – 18 March 2015
Stage 2 – Mid-April 2015
Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany
Stage 3 – 31 May 2015
Afghanistan, Ascension Island, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Bermuda, Brunei, Canada, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Egypt
Stage 4 – 31 July 2015
Rest of World, Gibraltar, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Italy, Laos, Libya, Maldives, Malta, Nepal, Netherlands, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Guyana, Iran, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Papua New Guinea, North Korea, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Qatar, St Helena, St Lucia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Trinidad & Tobago, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Yemen