Changes to the requirements for UK biometric residence permits

On 30 November 2012, UKBA announced a change to the requirements to provide the UKBA with biometric information. To read UKBA’s announcement, which has also been copied below for your convenience, please click here.

This change won’t affect the majority of our readers, since the majority is applying for visas from overseas. It will, however, affect you if you come to the UK on the strength of a visa in a long-term stay category (e.g. student, spouse) and subsequently need to extend or change your leave to remain whilst you are in the UK.

UKBA’s announcement about the changes to the biometric requirements

Quote:

From 1 December 2012, the requirement to provide the UK Border Agency with biometric information is changing.

If you are from outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland and you are granted permission to stay in the UK for more than 6 months on or after 1 December 2012, you must apply for a biometric residence permit (if you have not already done so). If you are affected by the change we will write to you about how to apply for your biometric residence permit.

This is to ensure that from 1 December we only issue this new format of immigration status document. This is to meet our obligations under European legislation.
Biometric residence permits are replacing older forms of documentation and the new format is helping employers and other bodies to check the immigration status and entitlements of foreign nationals. They are both simpler to understand and are more convenient for foreign nationals living in the UK to use. The application process also enables the agency to check a person against both our records and police fingerprint records.

We have been rolling out biometric residence permits to different visa categories over the last 4 years. This means that applicants have been enrolling their biometric information (fingerprints and facial images) to apply for a biometric residence permit at the same time as making their application to stay in the UK. Some people will have applied to stay in the UK before there was a requirement to provide biometric information in their category, and will not have provided their biometric information. If these people are granted permission to stay on or after 1 December 2012, either at first consideration or after a successful appeal, they will need to apply for a biometric residence permit.

These measures are helping to combat illegal immigration, abuse of the immigration system and the misuse of public funds.

Unquote

Background

As stated above, UKBA has been rolling out biometric residence permits to different visa categories over the last 4 years. The requirement was restricted to certain visa categories only (e.g. Tier 2, spouses etc.) but is now being extended – see details below.

Who needs to apply for a UK biometric residence permit

If you are applying for a visa for 6 months or longer you must apply for a biometric residence permit (unless you already have one) if you are currently in the UK and you want to:

  • extend your temporary permission to stay to a total of 6 months or more;
  • apply for permission to settle in the UK (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’);
  • transfer your permission to stay from an old passport or similar document using form TOC or NTL; or
  • apply for a Convention travel document (1951 refugee or 1954 stateless person) or a certificate of travel.

If you applied in a category that did not require you to enrol your biometric information and your application is granted on or after 1 December 2012 you must apply for a biometric residence permit. UKBA will write to you and explain how to apply for a permit.

How do I know if I need a Biometric Residence Permit

You cannot simply apply for a Biometric Residence Permit. You can only apply for a biometric residence permit in the circumstances outlined above, i.e. when you are applying to extend/vary your stay in the UK or need to transfer your current leave to a new passport. If you are currently in the UK in a category that previously did not require a biometric residence permit, the UKBA will write to you. If you are unsure of whether you need a biometric residence permit or not when you’re applying to extend your stay, the relevant UKBA application form will clearly say whether or not you must apply for a biometric residence permit at the same time.

How does this change affect visa applicants overseas

It does not affect visa applicants overseas. It will only affect you if you apply to come to the UK in a long term stay visa category (e.g. student, spouse etc.), entered the UK, and you need to:

Extend your leave to remain;

Vary your leave to remain (Example: you entered the UK on a fiance/e visa, got married and apply for further leave to remain as a spouse/partner); or

Transfer your permission to stay from an old passport or similar document using form TOC or NTL. Form TOC must be used if you already have permission to be in the UK for a limited period as confirmed by a stamp or sticker in a passport or other document issued to you, and you now want that permission confirmed in another document (usually because you have obtained a new passport). This is known as a transfer of conditions (TOC). You will need form NTL if your resident permit gives you permission to settle permanently in the UK (called ‘indefinite leave to remain’), and you want to transfer it to a new passport. NTL stands for ‘no time limit’.

Source: Biometric residence permit pages on the UKBA website, which can be found here.

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