In March 2015 the Home Office introduced a new initiative whereby non-EEA nationals who are granted leave to remain in the UK for more than six months will receive a Biometric Residence Card (BRP), instead of an ordinary visa-stamp in their passports.
Overseas nationals will have to go through the ordinary application procedure when applying for leave in their home country. Upon approval of the application, the applicant's passport will be returned to them with a 30 day "travel" visa, which they can use to enter the UK.
Upon arrival, non-EEA nationals have to collect their BRP from a designated post office within 10 days. The allocated post office is usually situated in the area where the applicant intends to reside during their stay. Should the applicant fail to enter the UK within the prescribed 30 days, they would have to apply again for a replacement of the short-term travel visa. The details on the BRP must be checked upon collection and the Home Office should be notified immediately if the BRP contains any errors.
On the one hand, the introduction of the BRP system eliminates the issue of transferring visas between new and expired passports. Another advantage is that it can be used as a form of identification. On the other hand, BRPs require more work on behalf of the applicant - they have to be collected, checked and potentially replaced. Furthermore, if the BRP is lost, it should be reported to the police and an application must be made to the Home Office in order to obtain a replacement (a fee will be payable in order to obtain a new one).