What is a Biometric Residence Permit?

07 Jul 2022 - Category: Blog /
residence permanent

A Biometric Residence Permit is a common form of identification in the United Kingdom. It provides proof of a right to reside, work or study in the UK and is something people apply for once their visa status has been approved. It is an extremely useful document and form of identification that makes access to other essential services in the UK much easier.

Below we’ll look more closely at:

  • What exactly is a Biometric Residence Permit?
  • The information held on a Biometric Residence Permit
  • The application process for your Biometric Residence Permit
  • Renewal and replacement services

Living in the UK to work or study can be a great decision, and your Biometric Residence Permit can make your stay more manageable when it comes to accessing a range of services from finance to healthcare.

What exactly is a Biometric Residence Permit?

A Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is a small polycarbonate card containing a chip to safeguard it and its owner from forgery or theft. The cards fit easily into your wallet or purse, measuring 86mmx54mm. It provides the information others may need about your rights to reside, work, attend university, or other education in the UK. It is a reliable form of identity for non-nationals in the UK who may need services such as bank accounts and similar.

What information is held on a Biometric Residence Permit?

Various important pieces of information are held on your Biometric Residence Permit. This is why it is particularly important to keep it safe to minimise the risk of duplication or forgery. Each card may hold:

  • Personal details including name, age, date of birth and place of birth
  • Biometric information, including fingerprints and photograph
  • Immigration including any conditions or restrictions of stay including any required permit for work information

It many also include information regarding a person’s social welfare or public fund’s access and it may hold a person’s National Insurance number in some instances.

Applying for a Biometric Residence Permit

Many people find they are automatically issued with a BRP when their visa or immigration status is approved or when simply applying to replace an older document. People do not need to apply for a BRP separately from their visa or immigration application and it comes with no additional charge.

You will be issued with your Biometric Residence Permit in a number of circumstances including:

  • Successful application for entering the UK for six months or more
  • Successful extension of your visa for six months or more
  • Transferring your visa to a new passport
  • Applying successful for a range of specific Home Office travel documentation

There is a processing time attached to receiving your Biometric Residence Permit. In most instances, if your immigration application was made in the UK, you should receive your BRP within 7 to 10 days of receiving your decision letter. It will be sent to the address you gave as part of your application and if it doesn’t arrive within this time, you can report this online via the government website.

Replacing your Biometric Residence Permit

There are different instances in which you may need a new BRP and strict rules governing your options for replacement. If your BRP is lost or stolen, you must report this as soon as possible. The rules differ based on whether you are in the UK when it is lost or stolen.

If you are in the UK at the time and your BRP was valid for three month or more you can report this online and apply for a replacement. You must do this within three months or lose it. You can be fined up to £1000 and made to leave the UK if you do not apply for a replacement in this time period.

If your BRP was valid for three months or less when losing it, you have a number of options:

  1. Report it as lost or stolen if you do not intend to remain in the UK after its expiration.
  2. Apply for a replacement if you plan to leave and return to the UK within 3 months of the expiry date.
  3. Apply for a visa extension if you want to remain after the expiry date. If your application is approved, you will receive a new BRP.

You cannot apply for a replacement BRP from outside of the UK. You need to apply for a “replacement BRP visa” which allows you to re-enter the UK just once. Once back in the UK you can make your application for a replacement BRP. This again, needs to happen within three months of it being lost or stolen unless you have a valid reason for being able to return to the UK in that time.

BRP Renewals

Renewing your BRP once it expires will not extend your time to stay in the UK. You must apply for a visa extension to change your length of stay in the country. However, BRPs do have an expiry date and do need replacing at that time, if it is your legal right to remain in the UK.

If you have indefinite leave to remain or enter the UK then you must use the BRP replacement service from within the UK.

If your visa is about to expire then you must apply for a new visa and not access the BRP service. If your visa application is successful you’ll be issued with a new BRP automatically.

Biometric Residence Permits for Working in the UK

Your Biometric Residence Permit is the easiest way to show potential employers you are available to work legally for them. Getting started in a good job is a vital step in making the UK your new home and once settled you can begin to contribute back in your home country too.

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