The UK Border Agency (“UKBA”) has announced changes to their rules regarding biometric residence permits (“BRPs”) which will be implemented from 29 February 2012.
Expansion of immigration categories requiring BRPs
The new measures being implemented are aimed at discouraging foreign nationals from breaking the law and working illegally in the UK.
This latest change will introduce a mandatory requirement for all non-EEA nationals who apply to remain resident in the UK over 6 months to obtain BRPs, enrolling their biometric information (fingerprints and facial photograph) with the UKBA. The extension of the requirement includes applicants who are seeking permission to settle in the UK (‘indefinite leave to remain’) and applicants who seek to stay in the UK for a limited period (‘limited leave to remain’) as well as refugees. Also settled migrants who require evidence of their settled status to be re-issued for any reason will now be covered by the compulsory permits.
From June 2012, employers will be able to carry out real-time checks on the eligibility of individuals to work or access services in the UK by using an online Employers Checking Service for BRPs. Currently the UKBA provides guidance for employers with regards to checking BRPs on its website. An email service is available for checking the validity of BRPs until the Employers Checking Service for BRPs goes live.
The extension of immigration categories now caught by this compulsory requirement will undoubtedly increase significantly the number of foreign nationals issued with BRPs. The BRP application form has been amended to reflect the changes and therefore individuals applying on 29 February 2012 or after will need to ensure they apply using the correct application form.