Biometric residence permits (BRP) replace older forms of documentation. They are part of a national identity system that helps the UK Government, employers and other organisations check the immigration status and other entitlements of foreign nationals.
The Home Office has made it compulsory for all non-EEA migrants granted permission to stay in the UK for longer than six months to apply for a biometric residence permit. The new rule came into effect for applications made within the UK on 1 December 2012. The rollout for overseas applicants was complete in July 2015.
What does this mean for employers?
All individuals from a country from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland applying for permission to stay in the UK for more than six months, must apply for a biometric residence permit. This standardises the documentation all migrants use, making it easier for employers to check the migrants right to live, work or study in the UK.
If an individual applies for a visa from outside of the UK they will be issued with a vignette covering the first 30 days of their leave. They are expected to collect their BRP within 10 days of arriving in the UK, as it will be their only proof of status and entitlements after their 30 day vignette expires.
If they need to start work prior to collecting their BRP you will be able to evidence their right to work using the short validity vignette in the passport they used to travel to the UK. Once the vignette in the passport has expired the migrant must collect their BRP. You should then conduct a right to work check on the basis of the BRP once the migrant has collected it.
Why is identity management important for employers?
As part of recruitment practice in the NHS, verification of identity checks are used to determine that the identity of an individual is genuine, that it relates to a real person and that the individual owns and is rightfully using that identity.
Biometric residence permits can support NHS organisations with employment checks. The permits may also support the work of the NHS registration authorities that manage the identity checks, registration and related control processes for all staff in the NHS who access patients' electronic medical records.
Who is issued with a biometric residence permit?
Individuals from a country outside the EEA or Switzerland who apply to stay in the UK for more than six months must enrol their biometric information (fingerprints and digital facial image) with UK Visas and Immigration. If their application is successful they will be issued a biometric residence permit as evidence of their right to be in the UK.
Further information about biometric residence permits is available on the UK Visas and Immigration website.
Further information for employers including a specimen card and guidance on what to look for when verifying a migrant's identity can be found on the UK Visas and Immigration website.
Employers can check the validity of an individual's right to work in the UK by submitting a form to the employers checking service.