Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
Foreigners entering the United Kingdom can receive a UK Biometric Residence Permit that serves as proof that its holder has the right to stay in the country. It is a multi-purpose document that contains important data about your identity and conditions of residence as well as your biometrics. In this article, we’re going to answer all the basic questions about this permit: what is a BRP? How to apply for one? What to do if your document contains any mistakes? And what rights does it grant you?
What is this UK residence permit? The main purpose of the document is to include all important data about your identity and present it in a simple way. That is the main significance of a BRP for foreigners: basically, it’s the primary document that verifies your identity and status for the entire period of your stay.
This document is a plastic card that is similar in size and overall appearance to a credit card. The BRP card has a special chip that protects the document from forgery, and it’s used to store all the important biographical details and biometric data of its holder. Known as a UK BRP card, it confirms your right to stay in the country and specifies the reasons: for example, work or education. The document is crucial for employment, renting apartments, receiving banking services, and so on.
A personal biometric card is granted to every non-EU national foreigner who is going to spend at least 6 months in the country. This includes people who are going to live in the United Kingdom, long-term employees, and students from other countries. You also get a BRP card when you extend your visa or transfer it. But if you’re entering the UK for a shorter period of time, you won’t receive this document.
What data is stored
The BRP document stores various facts about your identity and legal status in the UK, including:
- personal information — your full legal name, date of birth, and official place of birth;
- legal status — your reasons for entering the country, conditions, and allowed period of residence;
- biometrics — scans of your fingerprints and a photo;
- other data — for example, restriction of access to public benefits.
Sometimes the card can also specify your NI number on the back.
Applying for a permit
You do not normally need to apply for a BRP separately: your permit will be issued automatically when your main visa application gets approved. When you apply for a visa, immigration authorities will invite you to an official visa center and collect all the required information, including a photo and fingerprints. There is no extra charge for the UK residence permit, and you don’t normally have to file any additional documents to request one. However, there are cases in which you can file a BRP card application, such as:
- your visa information has changed (that includes your appearance);
- your previously issued BRP card has been lost or damaged.
Applying for a Biometric Residence Permit is easy: you can just complete the form on the official gov.uk website, and you’ll be asked to visit a special center shortly after to provide your biometric data. The process at the visa centre is quick: it takes just about five minutes.
BRP and ILR
There are many ways you can get the right to live in the United Kingdom indefinitely, and this status is known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This status can usually be obtained after 5 years of living in the country under the majority of immigration categories. Many types of a residence permit visa may lead to this result, including Global Talent visa, Skilled Worker visas. When you receive ILR, you become free from all immigration restrictions for the duration of your stay and have unrestricted access to public services.
Some people with ILR prove their rights to live and work in the UK without limits by showing a specific stamp in their passports. However, when your passport expires, this stamp will no longer be seen as valid by most employers and other organizations, and you’ll have to move your ILR to a UK permanent residence card in the form of BRP. If your BRPexpires, you can apply to the UK authorities for a permanent residence card renewal. The process is not quick and easy, so you must be prepared and submit an application in good time.
Biometric permits and cards
BRPs may look similar to BRCs, or Biometric Residence Cards, but there is an important difference in how they are treated by UK immigration officials. Biometric Residence Cards were issued to people from outside of the EEA to confirm their rights of residence under the European Union free movement rules. However, the United Kingdom is no longer a part of the EU, so you can’t renew your Biometric Residence Card in the UK.
How quickly a BRP is issued
If you apply for a visa from outside the country, you are expected to receive the BRP when you enter the UK, and you must collect your BRP before the vignette (entry sticker) in your passport expires or within 10 days of arrival to the UK, whichever is later. How to get your Biometric Residence Permit? The authorities will specify details about how and where you can collect your document in the visa granting letter. You should be aware that you may face a fine of up to £1,000 if you fail to collect it in time or you may face cancellation of your permission to be in the UK.
If you apply for a visa while already staying in the country, your BRPshould be ready in 10 days or less after your application is approved. The card will be sent in a special BRP letter to the address you’ve specified in your documents. If your BRP card has not arrived, report it to the authorities, and it will be re-issued and sent again.
Mistakes on your BRP
When you receive your biometric immigration document, it’s important to check the information on it to make sure it’s correct. You have 10 days to do it, and if you actually find a mistake, report it as quickly as possible to the immigration authorities. If you fail to do that within 10 days, you will have to pay for a replacement from your own pocket. If you think the allowed residence period is shorter than it should be, you can officially ask for Administrative Review.
Other mistakes (like wrong name, gender, and date of birth) should be reported through a special form on the official gov.uk website. To file a report, you’ll have to provide your name, nationality, date of birth, and Biometric Residence Permit number. You can also entrust this procedure to an experienced lawyer who knows how to correspond with the officials effectively. Expect a response in about 30 days after you file a report.
Your BRP is lost or damaged
If your biometric document is lost or damaged, you must report it to the Home Office right away. It’s an especially important thing to do if your permit is stolen. Failure to report the loss of your biometric card may result in a fine of up to £1,000. The officials will contact you within one day to provide further instructions. If you’ve lost your BRP while being outside of the country, you can’t order a replacement: instead, you should apply for a replacement BRP visa to return to the UK and have your document re-issued.
If you’ve lost or damaged your BRP while in the UK, you can simply order a replacement. It’s recommended to scan both sides of your permit as soon as you receive it and keep these scans in a safe place, which will make the process easier in case you do need to replace it.
Change of circumstances
If any of your personal data listed on your BRP changes, you are obliged to report it to the immigration officials. This includes changes in your name, address, gender, or facial features, and it applies to any kind of permit, including a pre-settled status biometric card. If you’ve changed your address, you don’t have to apply for a new permit, but many other changes require that you obtain a new document. The fee is now £161 for temporary residents and ILR holders.
The decision will come within 6 months if you have ILR and 8 weeks if you have limited leave to remain. It is very important that your application is properly structured and worded, so you should consider leaving it to professional lawyers to avoid delays and unnecessary costs during the procedure.
Need more information or have questions relating to immigration and residence in the UK? Contact our immigration lawyers in London.