A large wave of applications for replacement Biometric Residence Permits (“BRP”) and Biometric Residence Cards (“BRC”) over the past few months has led to some congestion within the Visas and Citizenship Appointment Service (UKVCAS), which has the risk of paralysing the Home Office’s visa application system again. More and more applicants are struggling to book appointment to provide their biometric information, which is a mandatory step before their applications can be processed.


To reduce the pressure caused by such titanic backlog, the Home Office has just announced that applicants applying for BRC and BRP replacements will be able to use their app to provide necessary ID information, as in most cases, the applicants’ biometric information has been retained by the Home Office and can be reused.


What are Biometric Residence Permits and Biometric Residence Cards?


The BRP and BRC hold applicants’ biographic details (name, date and place of birth) and biometric information (facial image and fingerprints), and shows their immigration status and entitlements while they remain in the UK. BRPs are titled ‘Residence Permit’ or ‘Short Stay Permit’ and BRCs are titled ‘Residence Card’, ‘Permanent Residence Card’ or ‘Derivative Residence Card’.


By immigration laws, BRP or BRC cards are conclusive evidence of foreign nationals’ right to live, study or apply for public funds in the UK. They need to produce it to their employers, banks and other parties. If they are damaged, lost or stolen, the relevant persons need to apply for new cards within three months; otherwise, they could be fined up to £1,000.00.



Identification Verification App


As applicants who have applied for UK visas have already known, one compulsory procedure in their application process is to provide biometric information, irrespective of whether it has been provided or not during previous applications and how many times it has been provided.


The Home Office claims that the IDV app will provide a more streamlined and modern alternative for those completing applications from within the UK. It is said to be very easy to install onto most phones. It will allow the selected applicants to reuse their previously submitted fingerprints and photographs. Essentially, the main appeal of the app is that it will save applicants from having to go to their local UKVCAS visa centre.


Things to note regarding the app


As the app requires applicants re-use their biometric information, the user must have had their information taken in the past. This means people who are applying for their status in the UK for the first time and have not provided their biometric information will not be able to use the app.


Also, the app will only be available to people within the UK and that have received an email invitation to use the app after submitted their request for a replacement BRP or BRC.


Once the applicants have submitted their BRP/BRC replacement application, UKVI will assess whether their application can be progressed using the IDV app. If suitable, they will then email the applicants inviting them to use the app to proceed their applications to the next stage.


What do we think?


It should be noted that the IDV app is not a new invention. It was first promoted by the Home Office when Covid-19 started in April last year, but was stopped after some time. The Home office are yet to state what problems the app has experienced and whether such problems have been resolved. We just hope that it will last longer this time.



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