U.S. visa applicants now covered by new procedures for biometric residence permits

1 Jun 15

UNITED KINGDOM

IMPACT – HIGH

What is the change? Effective immediately, U.S. visa applicants applying for British visas for stays longer than six months are now covered by new procedures for obtaining a biometric residence permit upon arrival in the U.K.

What does the change mean? Applicants in the U.S. should note the strict new 30-day time frame for traveling after visa issuance and the 10-day window after arrival in the U.K., during which applicants must pick up their biometric residence permit from their nearest post office.

  • Implementation time frame: The procedures have been rolled out in phases worldwide. The U.S. is among the countries, as well as Australia and Canada, that are covered as of May 31.
  • Visas/permits affected: All U.K. visa entry categories for business, work and family travel.
  • Who is affected: Applicants in the U.S. applying for visas to stay in the U.K. for more than six months.
  • Impact on processing times: U.K. consulates will issue a temporary visa valid for 30 days instead of a visa stamp for the full duration of stay. Processing of the 30-day visa will remain in line with current consular visa processing times.
  • Business impact: Businesses will have less flexibility at the visa application stage in that employees must designate their travel date and location in the U.K. where they will pick up the biometric residence permit. Any changes to these two items could cause significant delay.
  • Next steps: Employers and global mobility personnel should familiarize themselves with the new procedures and time lines when setting travel and work start dates for foreign nationals. BAL will advise in detail on all steps as part of an individual case.

Background: Under the new procedures, U.K. consulates will issue a temporary visa valid for 30 days instead of the full visa covering the whole stay. Applicants will enter the U.K. with this visa and then have 10 days from the date of arrival to collect their biometric residence permit. The permit gives the dates of their full permission to stay in line with any certificate of sponsorship.

It is important to note that the dates of validity of the 30-day temporary visa are determined by the date that the applicant sets as the “intended travel date” on the visa application, and the visa will generally be valid from the intended travel date up to 30 days thereafter. Thus, any changes to travel plans after applicants designate their intended travel date may require resubmission of a new application.

Additionally, applicants must designate a U.K. address and postal code to determine the nearest post office where they will collect the biometric residence permit on arrival. BAL recommends designating the U.K. office address as a best practice. Any changes to the pick-up location will incur delays.

The changes are part of the U.K.’s transition to biometric residence permits for overseas applicants worldwide, having already been in operation for in-country applicants for some time. Applicants in the U.S., Canada and Australia are among the latest to be phased in; biometric permits for overseas applicants from countries including India and China have been in operation since April. By the end of July, all overseas applicants from all countries will be covered by the procedures.

BAL Analysis: Employers and U.S. nationals should work closely with their BAL representatives to ensure that the information supporting their application is as accurate as possible to minimize delays and business disruption.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@balglobal.com.

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