Insights New Government Guidance on eVisas – What Steps Should Employers Take?

As part of a wider digitalisation strategy, the Home Office are looking to transition all physical Biometric Residence Permits (“BRPs”), Biometric Residence Cards (“BRCs”) and other physical immigration documents to a form of digital status called an eVisa.

An eVisa, like a BRP or BRC, provides evidence of an individual’s immigration status. It uses a share code mechanism to create a ‘view and prove’ system, allowing individuals to share the details of their status with employers to demonstrate the right to work and with landlords for rental purposes. The introduction of eVisas will mean that migrants are no longer required to provide physical proof of their status and can access evidence of their right to live and work in the UK wherever they are.

EU nationals with Settled or Pre-Settled Status already use the eVisa system, meaning that many employers may be familiar with this already.

The published guidance explains why the Home Office are opting for this digital system – eVisas are more secure, will reduce processing times and will speed up passport control at the border.

Migrants with leave extending into 2025 will notice that their cards expire on 31 December 2024, despite their permission extending beyond this date. This is because the Home Office intends to phase out all physical proof of status by the end of this year and all BRP and BRC holders will be migrated onto the digital system. Transitioning to an eVisa will not affect a migrant’s immigration status or the conditions of their permission to enter or stay in the UK.

In order to do this, BRP holders will need to create a UKVI account. Some BRP and BRC holders will have received emails notifying them of this obligation, but if you haven’t received one, you should keep your eyes peeled. It looks as though (although we are awaiting formal confirmation) it will be possible for all BRP and BRC holders to activate accounts by April this year. There is currently no fee to create an account.

Those who received indefinite leave to remain or indefinite leave to enter many years ago may have a wet-ink stamp or vignette in their passport. These individuals must complete a ‘No Time Limit’ (“NTL”) application. This will enable them to get a BRP to prove their status, which will be necessary when applying for an eVisa.

Employers should ensure that all employees are aware of these changes – they affect all migrant workers, not just individuals who are sponsored by the firm. Reminders should be sent on a regular basis, encouraging employees to check for emails from the Home Office, inviting them to upgrade. Employees should also be encouraged to ‘get on the front foot’ and activate an account as soon as this becomes possible, rather than wait for a reminder to arrive.

We will provide further information as soon as the Home Office publish any updates on this matter.