A 'biometric' is a measurement of a biological characteristic that is unique to every individual. Biometrics can be used to identify people, and to allow for automatic recognition when verifying your immigration status. Any application for leave in the UK is automatically an application for a biometric immigration document (BID), and therefore most visa applications require an appointment for you to enrol your personal biometric information. Examples of BIDs include Biometric Residence Cards and Biometric Residence Permits. Often, employers request to view these documents in order to verify employees' right to work in the UK.
Who needs a biometric appointment?
You will need to attend a biometric appointment if you are applying for any UK visa that is longer than 6 months. These appointments are a mandatory part of your application, so you must attend in order for your application to be processed. When you submit an application online, you will be directed to a website to book your appointment.
If, for any reason, the Home Office identifies that you do not need a biometric appointment, you will receive an email explaining how to submit a photo and the relevant documents. This only applies to a minority of applicants in niche circumstances; it should be assumed that a biometric appointment will be needed for every applicant with each new application that is made.
What to do if you require a biometric appointment
You will need to book an appointment online. To do this, you must make an account on the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) website if you are applying from within the UK, or the website of a relevant visa application centre if you are outside of the UK. Once you have made an account, the website will explain how to book an appointment.
Your biometric appointment will require the supporting documents that you uploaded for your main application. You can upload these electronically or bring them with you on the day to scan at your appointment. If you are applying for the EU Settlement Scheme you must ensure that your documents are uploaded in advance on the EU Settlement Scheme website because they cannot be printed on the day. The documents that you will need to provide will vary depending on the immigration route and your personal circumstances. You may want to speak to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.
It is also important to remember to bring a printed copy of your appointment confirmation with a clear QR code, and your passport or other relevant travel document. If you are unable to bring your passport, you may be able to bring an alternative form of ID if your current passport is with the UKVI. The UKVCAS website states the following:
"If your current passport is with UKVI at the time of your appointment and you can provide evidence to explain this, you will be able to continue with your appointment providing you also bring an alternative form of ID to your appointment.
Alternative forms of photographic ID may include:
- National ID card
- Expired (but not cancelled) passport or biometric residence permit/card
- Government issued photographic ID such as UK photographic driving licenses (full or provisional)
- Convention travel document (CTD), Certificate of identity document (CID) or Stateless person document (SPD)."
The location of your appointment will depend on whether you made your application from within or outside of the UK. If you are applying within the UK, you will usually be required to attend either a UKVCAS service point, or a Service and Support Centre (SSC). If you're outside the UK, you'll be asked to go to a visa application centre.
What to expect on the day
You should arrive promptly at your allotted time. The following things will take place at your appointment:
- Your fingerprints will be scanned
- Your passport will be scanned (and retained if applying from overseas (unless you purchased the 'keep my passport' service))
- A photograph will be taken of your face
- Your digital signature will be scanned
- Any documents that need to be digitalised will be scanned
Applicants under the age of 18 should be accompanied by a responsible adult who is named on their application.
The cost of biometric appointments varies depending on which service and location you select. Appointments at core service points are free, but other locations, known as 'enhanced service points', cost. You can also pay extra for urgent or out of hours appointments, or for additional services such as the use of a premium lounge to make your visit easier. If you are applying to extend your visa or switch to a different visa while already in the UK, a biometric fee of £19.20 will be charged as part of your application. You do not need to pay if you are applying for a visa under the EU Settlement Scheme.
You can find more information on UK visa appointments here.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.