The Home Office announced this week that commencing from March 2015, Biometric Residence Permits (BRP) are to replace visas in passports issued to non EEA nationals who are granted leave in the UK for more than 6 months. Once the overseas national's immigration application has been approved, the BRP will then become the only evidence of that persons' leave in the United Kingdom.
Non EEA nationals will have to apply for a BRP and collect it from an allocated post office within 10 days of arriving in the UK. Prior to their arrival and collection of their BRP, the Member State that grants the non EEA nationals' leave, will affix the person's passport with a "travel" vignette which is issued for a 30-day validity from the expected date of travel. This will enable the person to enter the UK. In the event that the person fails to travel within the allocated 30-day validity of the short visa, they will need to apply again to the Entry Clearance Officer in their Member State for a replacement short-term visa.
On making the visa application, the non EEA national will need to know their intended address in the UK and their expected date of travel. This will enable the Home Office to allocate the most appropriate post office for collection of their BRP and select the appropriate dates for the validity of their short term travel visa.
On arrival in the UK, the person will need to provide the UK Border with their passport or travel document containing the 30-day vignette, the decision letter from their Member State which grants them their leave for more than 6 months and any other information requested at the border. There is no further application to be made or fee to be paid once in the UK in order to obtain the BRP. On collection of the BRP, it is up to the person to check the details carefully to ensure their details are correct. Any errors identified will need to be notified to the Home Office as soon as possible. In the event the original BRP is lost or stolen, the person will be required to report this to the police and to the Home Office immediately and a new application would need to be made and a fee paid for a replacement BRP.
This new initiative will hopefully avoid the necessity for non EEA nationals to apply to transfer visas between passports or carry two passports with them in the event their passport expires during the validity of their visa.
Once approved by Parliament, this new process will be gradually implemented by Member States over a four month period commencing from March this year.