As prefaced in our Magrath December 2014 Insight, Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) will be required by non-EEA nationals who apply for visas of more than six months duration from outside of the UK. This new requirement will be rolled out in phases, country by country, over a four month period beginning in March 2015, once the parliamentary process has been completed.
Once these regulations enter into force, the UK will then be fully compliant with the EC Regulation that requires Member States, when granting leave for more than six months, to issue a standard format residence permit document which is to be sole evidence of leave.
How does the visa process change?
The general process will remain largely unchanged (and the visa fee is not being increased in consequence), except that instead of having a visa vignette affixed to the travel document showing the full leave period granted, there will be a 30 day short validity “travel” vignette that will allow the applicant to travel to the UK and collect their BRP. Successful applicants will receive a letter informing them of the decision, which will also include notification that they must collect their BRP from a designated Post Office branch within 10 days of arrival in the UK.
Visa applicants will be required to provide their intended date of travel, a UK address and postcode. The UK postcode submitted as part of the application process will be used to identify the branch of the Post Office to which the BRP will be sent for collection by the applicant. If the applicant does not travel to the UK within the 30 day validity of the vignette a new application for a replacement short-term visa must be made.
At present only the named applicant, or a family member who is 18 years or older and who has travelled to the UK with the named applicant, can collect the BRP on the applicant’s behalf, and in the case of the latter evidence that they have travelled to the UK together with the applicant will need to be provided.