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Moving to a digital immigration world

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Moving to a digital immigration world – transition to eVisas for Biometric Residence Permit holders

The Home Office plans to develop an immigration system that is “digital by default”. One of the steps they are taking in relation to transitioning towards this digital system is to request Biometric Residence Permit holders to apply for an eVisa.

Employer’s should be aware of these changes so that they can assist their employees in ensuring they have the right documentation in order to retain their right to work.

What is an e-Visa?

An eVisa is an online record of an individual’s immigration status. This record contains all details of an individuals permission to enter, stay and work in the UK. As this is a digital record, it should make right to work checks a lot quicker and easier for employers.

When are the e-Visa’s being introduced?

There are over four million individuals who hold a Biometric Residence Permit. As a result, the transition to eVisas is taking place through a phased rollout. Individuals can only apply for an eVisa upon receipt of a specific invitation from the Home Office.

In April 2024, around 30,000 Student Visa holders received emails from the Home Office, inviting them to apply for their eVisa.

The expectation is that in early June 2024, all Biometric Resident Permit holders with an expiry date of 31 December 2024 will be able to apply for their eVisa (regardless of whether they have received a specific invitation to do so).

Does this only apply to those with a Biometric Residence Permit?

In short, yes. The Home Office advises those who evidence their indefinite leave to remain status by a paper document should first make a ‘No Time Limit’ application. Once this application has been approved, the individual will received a Biometric Residence Permit, and later this year will be able to apply for an eVisa.

How can employers support their employees?

Updating a physical immigration document to an eVisa does not affect an employee’s immigration status, nor their conditions to enter or stay and work in the UK. However, employees may encounter difficulties with proving their immigration status moving forwards if they do not transition to an eVisa. As an employer, right to work checks will be quicker and simpler to carry out if individual’s right to work can be checked via their eVisa. To streamline processes, it is recommended employers speak to individuals to ensure they are aware of the transition to a digital immigration system, and to ensure those eligible to apply for an eVisa in good time before the end of the year.