UK to roll out biometric residence permits for overseas visa applicants worldwide by July

13 May 15



What is the change? By the end of July, the United Kingdom will phase in all countries to its new Biometric Residence Permits procedures for overseas visa applicants.

What does the change mean? All overseas visa applicants for stays of longer than six months will be required to follow new procedures to obtain a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). Applicants will receive a 30-day “travel vignette” allowing entry to the U.K and then will have 10 days upon arrival to pick up their BRP. The new process replaces the full visa stamp and allows the U.K. to meet its European Union obligations.

  • Implementation time frame: The permits are being phased in for applicants from various countries from April through July 2015.
  • Visas/permits affected: All U.K. entry categories for business, work and family travel.
  • Who is affected: Non-EEA nationals applying from overseas to stay in the U.K. for longer than six months.
  • Impact on processing times: The processing of 30-day “travel vignettes” allowing entry into the U.K. will remain in line with current consular visa processing times, but applicants must observe the strict 10-day deadline to collect the BRP on arrival in the U.K.
  • Business impact: The requirement to define a fixed travel date at the visa application stage is inflexible and may require applicants to submit repeat applications overseas if business or travel plans change. The requirement to collect the BRP within 10 days of arrival is similarly inflexible and adds an additional administrative step for migrants early on in their relocation. Corporate human resources personnel should be familiar with the new 30-day “travel vignette” when conducting right-to-work checks of employees who begin work before obtaining their BRPs, as well as the fact that they will be required to make a secondary check once the employee obtains the BRP.
  • Next steps: Global mobility personnel should review the rollout schedule for their particular country and review the new procedural rules associated with the BRP issuance. BAL will advise in detail on all steps as part of any individual case.

Background: The U.K. announced the new biometric residence card procedures in February. The country-by-country rollout schedule has now been announced and will cover all countries by the end of July.

The schedule for individual countries may be viewed here. Many countries, including India, are already operating under the new system. BAL expects the phase three rollout to cover the U.S., Canada and Australia by May 31, 2015.

The U.K. is introducing credit-card-sized BRPs in place of visa stamps for all entry categories for stays longer than six months. The cards will contain the applicant’s biometric data, including fingerprints and photo, and have been in place in the U.K. for extension and other in-country applications for some time.

Migrants and employers should take note of several procedural changes. At the online visa application stage, migrants must confirm a U.K. address and postal code to determine the nearest post office where they must collect the BRP. (BAL intends to use the employer address given that housing is often not fixed prior to the application stage.) Also at the application stage, migrants must confirm a fixed date of travel. The BRPs will not be issued overseas, and it will no longer be possible to obtain visas covering the whole period of time the migrant will be in the U.K. Applicants will receive a “travel vignette” valid for 30 days beginning from the stated date of travel. The vignette authorizes entry into the U.K and then migrants will have 10 days upon arrival to pick up their BRP. Any change in the pick-up location will cause delay.

BAL Analysis: To avoid business disruption, employers and migrants should work with their BAL attorney to complete the new procedures. Applicants should ensure that the information provided to support the application – including the U.K. address and intended date of travel – is as accurate as possible to minimize the need for additional applications due to expiring travel vignettes. Employers should also be prepared to accept the 30-day travel vignette as a right-to-work document, and consider setting start dates after 10 days of arrival to accommodate an employee’s ability to collect the BRP before starting work.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact

Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact