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eVisas: A New Way of Viewing and Evidencing Your Immigration Status Online

11 Jun 2024

In an effort to modernise the UK border and immigration system, the Home Office plans to become digital by design and digital by default. A key step towards this goal is to reduce the use of physical documents with the rollout of eVisas. The eVisa is an online record of your immigration status and the conditions of your permission to enter or stay in the UK. The new system will replace some methods of evidencing immigration status, requiring certain individuals to create an eVisa by the end of the year.


Who needs an eVisa?

Most UK visa holders hold a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or a Visa Vignette in their passport. Many current BRP holders may notice that their expiry date is set for 31 December 2024, even if their permission to stay extend past this date. This means BRP holders must set up an eVisa before their BRP expires to evidence their immigration status.

The expiry of a BRP on 31 December 2024 does not impact immigration status nor change the duration of permission to stay granted. It only affects the means of evidencing status.

The following documents will be replaced by eVisas:

  • biometric residence permits (BRPs)
  • biometric residence cards (BRCs)
  • passport endorsements, such as indefinite leave to enter wet ink stamps
  • vignette stickers contained in passports, such as entry clearance or visa vignettes.

Unfortunately, there will be no option to replace or obtain the above documents after 31 December 2024, as they will be officially replaced by eVisas as part of the ‘digital by default’ approach.

Those who have a BRC after a grant of leave under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS) already hold eVisas. Details on accessing the eVisa will be found within the grant letter. BRC holders who were granted leave under another route will have to create a UKVI account to access their eVisa.

If you have another physical document

When BRPs were first introduced in 2015, the Home Office introduced the No Time Limit (NTL) application. Although obtaining a BRP is not mandatory for those with British Citizenship or indefinite leave to remain, there still exists the option obtain one to evidence immigration status.

An NTL application is still available for those who hold British and Irish citizenship, indefinite leave to enter, indefinite leave to remain, or holders of other physical legacy documents. After a successful NTL application, BRP details may be used to set up an eVisa, allowing for other physical document holders to be included under the new system access and evidence immigration status online.

Those who have lost a passport containing non-digital proof of status, or simply prefer the convenience of not having to carry around a physical document to evidence immigration status, may consider an NTL application.

When do I have to set up an eVisa by?

Millions of visa holders already have access to their eVisa. Many have received invitations to set up an eVisa along with the grant of a visa application since 17 April 2024. Those who received a BRP and an eVisa invitation will not have to reregister their eVisa again once their BRP expires.

Those who currently have a BRP to evidence their status must set up an eVisa by the end of the year. The Home Office launched a phased rollout of eVisas to ease BRP holders into the transition process. Invitations have already been sent to groups of BRP holders to apply for an eVisa, with the goal of allowing most visa holders to have an eVisa by the end of 2024. These invitations are sent either through post or email.

Currently, the process of creating an eVisa is by invite only. Access to eVisas will be open to all BRP and relevant document holders later in the summer. Click here to sign up for Home Office updates on when you may access your eVisa.


Accessing your eVisa and creating a UKVI account

If you have received an invite to access your eVisa, you will need to create a UKVI account and download the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app. The app is available on the App store and Google Play store.

You will need:

  • your BRP card (or a valid passport, and either your BRP number or your visa application number)
  • date of birth
  • email address
  • phone number
  • access to a smartphone

Follow this link to create your UKVI account and set up access to your eVisa. After submitting all the necessary details, you will need to confirm your identity through the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app. The app will ask you to take a picture of yourself and your identity document. Once all the details are submitted, your UKVI account will be linked to your eVisa. You will then receive an email within a few days once your eVisa is ready to view.

View and prove service

The ‘view and prove your immigration status’ service is a form of viewing and evidencing immigration status. It may be used for personal reference or to evidence your right to work, rent or claim benefits.

The service will generate a share code which grants temporary access to the relevant information a third party would need.

In order to use this service, you will need the following:

  • details of the relevant document used to create your UKVI account
  • date of birth
  • access to the phone number or email linked to your UKVI account

If you don’t have a UKVI account there are other services you may use to prove your right to work and right to rent.


Why eVisas?

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has released guidance confirming that from 1 January 2025, individuals may use their eVisa to evidence immigration status along with their passport when traveling.

This new system promises enhanced security compared to physical documents as the digital eVisa is unable to be lost, stolen or tampered with. Furthermore, there will be no need for individuals to collect or wait for a physical document in the post.

The Home Office aims for efficient communication through the new system. eVisa holders may find it easier to update their details online. An online record of immigration status also intends to ease communication between government departments and public authorities regarding updates to immigration status. Furthermore, the ‘view and prove’ service allows a faster means of proving status to employers, landlords or other third parties.

However, potential issues surrounding the eVisa’s practicality sparks concern. Evidencing immigration status is essential for foreign nationals to work, rent and claim benefits. The new system may exclude those who do not have access to the internet or struggle to speak English. With BRP holders who may not be aware of the change, potential IT issues, and fake eVisa websites, there appears to be hurdles against a straightforward implementation of the new system and we are yet to see how the Home Office will respond to these criticisms.

Follow Up for Information and Advice

Our team at Clarendon Park Chambers are equipped to support our clients with new technological changes within the UK border and immigration system.

If you have any questions regarding the new eVisa system or would like to discuss your immigration matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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