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Immigration Corner: How do I apply for a biometric permit?

Published:Tuesday | June 23, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I plan to travel to the United Kingdom and I have read that I may need to get a biometric residence permit (BRP). What is this and how can I apply for one?

- PA

Dear PA,

A person must have a BRP if he/she would like to make an application to go to the United Kingdom; make an application to extend his/her visa or settle over there; transferring a visa to a new passport; or making an application for certain Home Office travel documents.

The applicant should be aware that he/she does not have to apply separately for a BRP; an applicant's personal data is taken when that person makes a visa or immigration application.

A person's BRP will include that person's name, date and place of birth; his/her fingerprints and a photo of his/her face: this is what is considered to be a person's 'biometric information'.

In addition, it will include that person's immigration status and any conditions of his/her stay and it will also state whether that person can access public funds, for example benefits and health services.

A person can use his/her BRP to confirm his identity; or his/her right to study or work in the United Kingdom; or his/her right to any public services or benefits that he/she is entitled to.

An applicant's BRP will be sent to him/her by post if that person is making an immigration or visa application from inside the United Kingdom. If a person makes an application from outside the United Kingdom he/she will have to collect it from a post office in the United Kingdom within 30 days of his/her arrival in the United Kingdom.

When an applicant is asked to provide his/her biometric information as part of a visa or immigration application, he/she will need to have a digital photo taken of his/her face. That person will need to put his/her fingers on a glass screen to be scanned and give their signature.

The process takes less than five minutes and does not involve any ink. Please note that if the applicant does not have any fingers or hands he/she will only need to have a digital photo taken of his/her face. It will be noted on that person's records that he/she is physically unable to provide fingerprints.

It should be noted that children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or someone over 18 years of age who has legal responsibility for the child. Also, children do not need to provide fingerprints but must have a digital photo taken of their face if they are under six years and applying from inside the United Kingdom; or if they are under five years and applying from outside the United Kingdom.

If a person is applying from inside the United Kingdom, that person can give his/her biometric information at certain post office branches if the application was made by post or a Premium Service Centre if he/she applied in person. Please be aware that a person needs to give his/her biometrics at a visa application centre if applying from outside the United Kingdom.

If a person applied from inside the United Kingdom his/her BRP should be sent to that person by post. A person will need to check and report any errors on his/her BRP or damage when it arrives.

If a person applied from outside the United Kingdom and if that person's leave is granted, he/she will be issued a 30-day vignette. The vignette is valid for 30 days from the date the person stated that he/she would arrive in the United Kingdom, even if he/she arrived at a later date. A person will have to apply for another 30 day visa if he/she does not travel within that 30 days.

A person's decision letter will state when the BRP will be available and which post office branch from which it can be collect. Persons must bring a passport or travel document with their vignette when collecting their BRP and should also bring their decision letter.

A person may get a penalty or even have the leave cancelled if the BRP is not picked up within ten days of that person's arrival in the United Kingdom.

- John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK).