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22 July 2024

Important changes to proving your UK immigration status: update on eVisa guidance

10 mins

What you need to know if you have a physical document to prove your UK immigration status, such as a BRP, BRC, vignette sticker or wet ink stamp in your passport.

Please note that this article was first published on 21 March 2024, with subsequent updates on: 18 April 2024, 1 May 2024, 20 May 2024, 2 July 2024 and 22 July 2024.

For the most recent update as of 22 July 2024, please see “Student Visa holders” section below.

Most of our existing clients will already be aware that the government is digitalising how individuals prove UK immigration status. This is known as an ‘eVisa’, whereby the UKVI are replacing physical documents with an online record of an individual’s immigration status. This has already been in place for those who have been granted status through the EU settlement scheme and it is now being made available to wider groups.

On 21 March 2024, the government updated their guidance on eVisas. The information is still fairly limited and we break it down here.

The UK government will currently be replacing the following documents with an eVisa:

  • biometric residence permits (BRP)
  • biometric residence cards (BRC)
  • passport endorsements, such as indefinite leave to enter wet ink stamps
  • vignette stickers in passports, such as entry clearance or visa vignettes
  • vignette stickers in immigration status documents

If you have any of the above listed documents, it is essential that you keep track of Home Office guidance as further information is provided and look out for any correspondence sent to you. The government have confirmed that updating your physical document to an eVisa does not affect your immigration status or the conditions of your permission to enter or stay in the UK.

How to get an eVisa

In order to access your eVisa you will need a UKVI account. This is free to create and use. On 15 May 2024, UKVI uploaded a Youtube video to their eVisa website page, demonstrating how to create and use a UKVI account. You can also watch this video here.

UKVI have introduced an eVisa Webchat function which you can use if you encounter problems setting up your UKVI account or getting access to your online status. You can find the Webchat here.

The Home Office have recently started issuing decisions on immigration applications asking individuals to create their UKVI account following their grant of leave. As this is still the transitional period, BRPs will still be issued for those who are granted leave before December 2024, however individuals do not need to wait to receive their BRP to create an account.

Please note: you will need to create your own account. Your personal details need to be attached to your account so that you can keep it updated and only you should be linked to your account.

Update as of 2 July 2024

Earlier in the year, the Home Office stated that a generic link for the creation of a UKVI account would be provided from June 2024 for all applicants. This has not materialised and further updates from the Home Office suggest that this has now been delayed to “later in the year.” We do not have any specific timeframes. The Home Office have assured that individuals can continue to rely on the biometric residence permits during this time.

If you have a BRP

Those who were granted leave from 1 January 2020, received a BRP with an expiry of 31 December 2024, even though this is not the expiry of leave.  UKVI may contact you, either by email or by post, to create an account and instructions will be contained in that correspondence. However, some practitioners use their own work email addresses in client’s applications for ease of dealing with correspondence with the Home Office, which means that these eVisa account emails are now being sent directly to us. We have now had some of these emails and it is important to note that the UKVI are unhelpfully sending generic emails without containing any of the client’s identifying details. This has been raised with UKVI and we are waiting for a resolution. However, we understand that a generic account creation link will be accessible later in 2024 for all BRP holders and so you will not need to wait for UKVI to contact you once this has been released. We would recommend that you sign up to the government website for updates on when an eVisa account will be available to you.

If you have a passport endorsement, or vignette sticker

If you have a passport endorsement, or vignette sticker which confirms indefinite leave to enter or indefinite leave to remain (also known as settlement), you must make a ‘no time limit’ (NTL) application. If your NTL application is successful, you will be issued with a BRP and then will be able to make an account for an eVisa later this year. You can make this application via this link. Until then, you should continue using your immigration document as normal.

We strongly advise that you keep informed and sign up for updates on the government website.

We will also continue to provide further information on our website as we receive it.

If you have a BRC

Biometric Residence Cards were issued to those who were granted permission to stay in the UK because of their relationship with a family member from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein (EEA).

If you still have a BRC endorsed with any form of leave that has not been granted under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), your leave is no longer valid even if the BRC is not expired. This is because the UK has left the EU, and the EU free movement law no longer applies. If this applies to you, you may still be able to apply for status under the EUSS, however you will need to provide a valid reason for a late application as the deadline for EUSS applications was on 30 June 2021. In order to make this application, you must also have been living in the UK before the end of 2020.

If you have been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme and still have a BRC, you do not need to take any action as you should also have an eVisa. If you are not sure that you do have an eVisa, you should make enquiries with the Home Office as soon as possible.

There is currently no information whether any other documents, such as asylum registration cards (ARC), will be digitised.

Student Visa holders

Since 3 April 2024, the Home Office have been contacting student visa holders in the UK to invite them to create an eVisa account. This will be by invitation only. The notification received advises as follows:

“On Wednesday 3 April we’ll be directly contacting approximately 30,000 student visa holders by email, to ask them to sign up and create their UKVI account and get access to their eVisa. The ability to create an account is currently by invitation only.

We will be inviting groups of in country customers to sign up and create their UKVI account and get access to their eVisa. As this change affects millions of customers, this phased approach will allow a smoother transition across the early rollout period, followed by a call to action in the summer to enable all customers with extant permission to make the switch to eVisas. GOV.UK/evisa will provide the latest information to all customers.”

We will continue to update this page with further information and announcements as we receive them.

Update as of 22 July 2024

The Home Office have now advised that the eVisa roll out will not be fully in place for students by the 31 December 2024 as they had hoped. Due to the delay, they will be introducing a “tactical solution” in order to support Student Sponsors. They aim to have a strategic solution by June 2025.

Notwithstanding the delay and failings in the scheme, UKVI will no longer be issuing students with physical BRPs after the 31 October 2024.

UKVI have confirmed that instead they will be writing to the Key Contacts at universities with more than 100 students to enter a data sharing agreement with UKVI. The Home Office will then share data with the institutions on the sponsored students to enable institutions to cross check they have captured all the data on the sponsored students. Data shared will include:

  • Name
  • Visa start and end date
  • Permission type
  • CAS number
  • Date of birth
  • Passport

Data will be shared in October 2024, November 2024 and January 2025

Sponsoring institutions will need to prepare to use a share-code to assess a student’s right to study with the view and prove service from the UKVI. This information will not confirm a student’s right to work. As such, and given the impossible position this leaves sponsors, UKVI will confirm that for the next 12 months sponsors do not need to check a student’s work conditions. However, should a student raise an error, the sponsor must inform the Home Office.

Lack of data will not lead to Sponsors being penalised for record keeping if it is due to the eVisa roll-out. Key Contacts at institutions will have this confirmed in due course and should keep a record of this on their files.

Benefits to an eVisa

  • Once you have an account, it will contain details of your immigration status, including the type of your permission to stay in the UK, when your stay expires, your right to work, right to rent, right to access public funds etc. You will also be able to share information directly from your account with relevant people (i.e. your employer or landlord) by creating a share code, which you can do here. The share code will give others time-limited access to your immigration status information. 
  • You will not need to wait for, or collect, a physical document after your application is decided.
  • It will be quicker and easier to prove your status at the UK border. You currently need to travel with both your national passport and your UK immigration document (i.e. BRP), however once you have an active eVisa account, your eVisa will be linked to your national passport and you therefore only need to travel with your passport. You will need to ensure to update your eVisa account if you obtain a new passport or if any of your details change. However, until your eVisa account has been confirmed and is in use, we would advise that you continue to carry your UK immigration document with you to avoid any issues at the UK border upon re-entry.
  • It cannot get lost.

Potential issues with the new electronic system

  • It requires individuals to have some knowledge of technology.
  • Government Terms & Conditions of a UKVI account:
    • The Home Office will not be liable for any loss or damage that arises from use of the UKVI account. This includes: any direct, indirect, or consequential loss, any inability to use the UKVI account, any disruption to access to the UKVI account any information that is lost or corrupted while data is being transmitted, processed or downloaded from the UKVI account.
    • If there are reasonable grounds to believe an account holder, helper or proxy has breached any of these terms and conditions, or there are other reasons to believe the security of an account has been breached, access to the UKVI account may be suspended, restricted, or terminated without notice. 
    • If an account is suspended, restricted, or terminated, then visa holder may lose ability to be able to demonstrate presence and legality in the UK.

There are ongoing discussions with UKVI in respect of eVisas and we will continue to provide updates on our website.

Published on 21 March 2024, and updated on 18 April 2024, 1 May 2024, 20 May 2024 and 2 July 2024.

For more info on our Immigration services, please visit the page here.

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