As a result of the delays caused by COVID-19, the Home Office have been looking for ways to effectively handle the processing of applications submitted before and during the pandemic. In order to speed up the biometric enrolment process, it has been announced that in certain circumstances, an applicant’s biometric data can be reused from a previous application. For applicants who are eligible for biometric reuse, it has been advised that a facial image would still need to be submitted as part of the process, which can be completed using the new IDV application (IDV app).
On 20 August 2020, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) held a joint teleconference to discuss the release of the new IDV app.
In normal circumstances, all applicants are required to provide their biometric data on submitting their application and must do so at a UKVCAS service point. The IDV app has removed the requirement for certain qualifying applicants to attend a biometric appointment at a service point and the teleconference shed further light on this new process. We provide below an overview of the key points raised by UKVI and UKVCAS regarding the new biometric enrolment process.
Who is eligible for biometric reuse?
The reuse of biometrics and subsequent use of the IDV app is only available to applicants applying in-country. It was confirmed that reuse of biometrics was only applicable to those applying for visas in the following categories:
- BRP replacement
- private life
Adults may be eligible to reuse their biometrics if they most recently submitted biometrics to the Home Office up to 5 years ago, and children may be eligible if submitted up to 2 years ago. In the case of a family application, if any family members’ fingerprints cannot be reused for any reason, all family members must attend an appointment to re-enrol their biometrics.
What do we know about the app?
The app is free to use, and is compatible with IOS and Android devices.
How do applicants find out whether they can use the app?
UKVI and UKVCAS advised on the teleconference that all applicants who applied before 31 July 2020 should have now received either:
- an email advising them that they are eligible for biometric reuse (with details of the IDV app to follow), or
- an email requesting them to attend an appointment in person (if they have not been deemed eligible to recycle their biometrics).
Those who submitted applications in August will receive emails on a staggered basis, which will be sent out in date order.
The IDV app went live on 17 August 2020 and so far 120 applicants have successfully completed the process.
How does the app work?
The IDV app has been developed with customer use as a priority.
Applicants, along with immigration advisors, will continue to be able to upload mandatory and supplementary documents via UKVCAS as they could previously.
An applicant must wait for an email from UKVCAS which invites them to use the IDV app and no access to the IDV app will be permitted until such time that an email has been received. Once an applicant has access to the IDV app, they will be able to view and check the documents that have been uploaded via UKVCAS. They will then be required to upload a live ‘selfie’ photograph and also a photograph of their travel document.
The process, as explained during the teleconference, will not allow for a photograph of the applicant to be uploaded. The applicant must therefore be physically present at the time the process is finalised and the IDV app is accessed.
Gherson works closely with our clients to ensure that the entire process runs smoothly, and to confirm that all documents have been uploaded correctly.
Applicants are able to opt-out of using the app if they wish to attend a face-to-face appointment at a UKVCAS service point and will be provided with a deadline by which they must do so.
In-country student biometrics
Tier 4 students who provided their fingerprints after July 2015 may be able to use the IDV app rather than having to attend a biometric appointment in person. Students enrolled on a course for the 2020/21 academic year will be able to begin their course in advance of receiving a decision on their application.
Please contact Gherson if you are a prospective student and you wish to obtain further information about the Tier 4 visa application process or about the COVID-19 concessions pertaining to students in the UK.
Decision time once relevant steps have been completed on the IDV app
Decisions will only be provided once the live ‘selfie’ photograph and travel documents have been uploaded and submitted on the IDV app. UKVI has confirmed that extensive work has been undertaken to complete pre-assessment casework in advance of successful submission of biometrics.
It is therefore hoped that decisions can be provided soon after biometrics have been submitted and that the introduction of the IDV app will reduce any further delay to the application process.
Gherson has extensive experience with all types of immigration applications. If you would like any clarification in respect of the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.
Immigration Consultant in our corporate team