New biometric processes have been introduced by UK Visa and Immigration ("UKVI") for immigration applications, in alignment with the recently published biometric reuse policy (see Biometric reuse Guidance published in May 2022). A new application process, which allows biometrics to be registered on a mobile telephone, via the UKVCAS Identity Verification (IDV) mobile app (also known as the UK: Immigration: ID Check application), is being gradually rolled out to apply to different application categories.
UKVCAS Identity Verification (IDV) Mobile App
The UKVCAS Identity Verification (IDV) mobile app (also known as the UK: Immigration: ID Check application) has recently been updated by the UKVI. The mobile ID Check app's main purpose is to allow applicants to submit their biometric information remotely, saving them time and money by doing away with in person attendance at biometric appointments.
Submitting biometrics using the mobile ID Check app is only available to applicants who have made their immigration applications inside the UK; further, using this process is only available if an invitation is sent by email by UKVI to the applicant inviting them to use the mobile app. Applicants who do not receive such an invitation to use the mobile app will need to book and attend an in-person biometric appointment.
UK: Immigration: ID Check Application Guidance
The guidance explains generally how UKVI intends to reuse biometrics in certain applications. The overall policy will be to reuse the biometrics of those with a valid biometric residence permit (BRP) or a biometric residence card (BRC). The mobile app is designed to allow such applicants to reuse biometrics enrolled in previous immigration applications. They include applicants who hold a valid BRP/BRC for:-
– For leave under the Graduate Route (from 01 July 2021);
– To replace a BRP or BRC
It was further announced, in May 2022, that the biometric reuse policy will now include children aged 5 years and above.
Graduate, Student or Skilled Worker Route
As is set out above, biometrics can be reused for those applying for leave under the Graduate route, Skilled Worker route, Student visa route – or for Indefinite Leave to Remain for those with refugee status, humanitarian protection or Discretionary Leave. While these applicants are no longer required to attend a biometric appointment because their fingerprints can be reused, they must still upload a new facial image (via the UKVCAS (IDV) application, see below).
The full requirements are as follows (from the Guidance):-
- UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has previously enrolled and retained the individuals' fingerprint biometrics or the individual is permanently unable to enrol their fingerprints
- individuals must hold a valid BRP
- must be aged 5 years old or over
- the existing facial photograph stored on the Immigration and Asylum Biometric System must not be older than 10 years, or 5 years for individuals aged under 16, at the date the application is made and the individual uploads a new facial image
- must use the 'UK Immigration: ID Check' application
Where necessary, applicants may be subject to additional checks if all steps have not been completed using the UKVCAS (IDV) mobile app.
Successful applicants will be issued a new BRP alongside their eVisas. The eVisa is a digital visa that verifies an applicant's immigration status, and contains a record of the applicant's fingerprints and facial images. The information held on the eVisa can, for example, be used to prove an applicant's right to work (see the Guidance and our post on new right to work guidance for employers which discusses how employers should now conduct online right–to–work checks).
BRP Card Holders
For applicants applying to replace their BRP cards, their biometrics will be reused if (again from the Guidance):-
- UKVI has retained the individuals' fingerprint biometrics
- the information on the face of the card and the chip remains the same as the
- previous document
- the individual is aged 5 years or over
- the expiry date of the card remains unchanged
- the facial photograph on the document will not be older than 10 years, or 5 years for cards issued to individuals aged under 16, on the date the replacement card expires
- individuals have not changed their address in the last 6-months
For further information about how to apply for a replacement BRP card, see our previous post: Lost or Stolen BRP Card – Here's What To Do Now
The reused biometrics will be treated by the UKVI as a fresh enrolment. Successful applicants will receive a new card that contains their fingerprints and facial image provided their identities can be accurately identified and confirmed.
UK Visa Applicants Travelling to the UK
According to the Guidance, if an application concerns the change of status of a non-visa national which means that they are required to apply for a visa before travelling to the UK, such applicants "must not be required to re-enrol their biometrics". For example, if an applicant holds only an eVisa but was required to provide physical evidence of their immigration status to travel to the UK, the Guidance provides that they are no longer required to re–enrol their biometrics.
Applicants Unable to Enrol Their Biometrics
There is a limited category of applicants who will be able to re-use their biometrics because they are unable to enrol their biometrics, due to circumstances such as their physical inability to travel. The Guidance states that, provided the UKVI has retained the applicant's fingerprint biometric information, and the applicant was previously issued a BRP/BRC, their biometrics can be re-used in circumstances where they are physically unable to attend the biometric appointment – or where other options, such as the mobile app, are not viable. The types of circumstances outlined in the Guidance include those applicants who are "incapacitated through disability, illness, injury or medical treatment", "lack the mental capacity to cooperate with the enrolment process", or are "isolated to avoid contact with others to prevent harm, injury or illness".
The re-use of biometric information would, for example, assist applicants applying for further leave under the Adult Dependent Relative visa route who might be physically unable to attend an in-person biometric appointment and who might struggle to access the mobile app to register their biometrics.
The second group of applicants who are likely to have their biometrics re-used are those who have made unsuccessful applications while they are detained pending removal from the UK.
Further details, and updates on visa applications which are eligible for registering biometrics through the mobile ID Check app, can be found on the Home Office website. The website also lists the priority services available for biometrics that have been collected using the mobile ID Check app.
Prioritised Applications for Biometric Enrolment
According to the Guidance, certain categories of visa applications will be prioritised if the biometric enrolment services are disrupted (e.g. due to a pandemic). These applicants will either have already enrolled their biometrics in their previous applications. or will be invited to attend an appointment at a Service and Support centre. The categories are:
- fee waiver Local Authority supported with no leave (overstayer/out of time)
- fee waiver with no leave (overstayer/out of time)
- Article 3 Human Rights claim on medical grounds
- destitute asylum claimants who are accommodated under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and are to be granted leave
- potential victims of trafficking, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and any other urgent safeguarding matter
- unaccompanied minors
- babies born in the UK to foreign national parents holding limited leave
- fee waiver with existing recourse to public funds with 3C leave
- aged over 70
How to Use the UKVCAS (IDV) Mobile App
If an applicant is invited by email to use the mobile ID Check app to register their biometrics, they will first have to download the mobile app onto their Android phone or iPhone. Once the ID Check app is downloaded, it will prompt the applicant to log into their immigration application with their email address, password, and UAN number, and then to upload mandatory documents and complete an identification verification check.
An applicant can choose to submit photos or upload files to support their immigration application from their mobile, or they may choose to upload documents on the UKVCAS website from, for instance, their computer. If the application is for a group of applicants, each member of the group must provide at least one document to meet the documentation requirements.
Following that, the applicant will need to submit a photo of their face and complete the 'liveness check' to verify their identity. The 'liveness check' involves moving in front of the camera to show that the applicant is providing a photograph which is contemporaneous, not just a photograph of a photograph. Children under the age of 10 are not required to complete a 'liveness check'. The applicant will also be asked to provide an image of the data page of their travel document.
After uploading all the mandatory documents and completing the identification verification check, the applicant will be asked to confirm that all documents comply with the relevant immigration rules and to sign a declaration of truth on the mobile application. Finally, the supporting documentation and biometric information will be sent to UKVI for evaluation. It is important to remember that the UKVCAS (IDV) mobile app will not provide updates for applicants' immigration applications.
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.