The EU Settlement Scheme: Can I Have a Biometric Residence Card?
The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) enables Europeans and their family members to apply for immigration status in the UK. Once the grace period comes to an end on 30 June 2021, it will be necessary to have status under the EUSS in order to continue to live lawfully in the UK (although late applications will be possible in certain circumstances). Over five million people have now applied to the EUSS, and with most applications resulting in a grant of leave, there are several million people in the UK who now need to know how to prove their right to live and work here.
Can EU Nationals Have a Biometric Residence Card?
Europeans have not had to attend biometric enrolment appointments in order to complete their EUSS applications. Rather, they have been able to upload their photograph and scan their European passport or national identity card on the EU Exit: ID Document Check smart phone app.
Europeans are not then issued with a Biometric Residence Card, and are not able to apply for one. Instead, they can ‘View and Prove’ their immigration status online. To log in to View and Prove, there is a three-step process:
- First, you will be asked to provide the number on the identity document you used when you applied to the EUSS. This may be a passport number or a national identity card number. If you have since replaced this document, and properly updated your online View and Prove profile, you will need to use the new document’s number;
- Next, you will be asked to enter your date of birth;
- Finally, you will receive a code at the mobile number or email address you used when you applied to the EUSS. Again, if you have changed telephone number or email address, and properly updated your online View and Prove profile, you will need to access the new telephone number or email address. Once you type in the code, you are able to see your status information, including your name, photograph and the kind of status you hold (i.e. Settled or Pre-Settled).
A similar online checking service is available to prove your immigration status to employers, using a ‘share code’.
The View and Prove facility is quick and helpful to those with good IT skills, enabling users to bring up clear proof of their status on their telephone or computer in seconds. It is less helpful to those without a good grasp of technology, and may therefore leave some vulnerable Europeans with difficulty accessing employment or benefits, or even renting property. For people struggling to use View and Prove, they can call the EUSS Resolution Centre telephone line on 0300 123 7379, and they should be able to get confirmation of their status, including a share code for employers, over the telephone.
Can Family Members of EU Nationals Have a Biometric Residence Card?
This View and Prove facility is not only available to Europeans, but also to their family members. However, family members of Europeans will find that they often also need a Biometric Residence Card in order to prove their status. Without one, they will likely encounter delays re-entering the UK, difficulty opening bank accounts and renting, as well as problems proving both a right to work and to claim benefits.
For some non-Europeans, the situation has so far been very similar to their European family members. Those non-Europeans who held valid Biometric Residence Cards issued under the EEA Regulations 2016 (‘EEA Biometric Residence Cards’) at the time they applied to the EUSS, were usually also able to use the EU Exit app. Generally, they have not needed to attend a biometric enrolment appointment, because they have already provided their biometrics in the past, when applying for the EEA Biometric Residence Card. On being granted EU pre-settled or settled status, they did not get issued with a Biometric Residence Card under the EUSS, and instead have been using View and Prove and their old EEA Biometric Residence Cards to prove their status in the UK.
This is contrasted with those non-European family members who did not hold valid EEA Biometric Residence Cards on application to the EU Settlement Scheme. These family members will not have been able to use the EU Exit app to complete their application. Instead, they will have had to attend a UKVCAS (Sopra Steria) biometric appointment, where they will have provided their photograph and fingerprints in person. Thereafter, they will have been issued with a new Biometric Residence Card. This Biometric Residence Card will say on the front that it has been issued under the “EU Scheme”. Some more recent Biometric Residence Cards also state that they are “issued in accordance with the EU Exit Separation Agreements”.
These new Biometric Residence Cards will remain valid after the grace period comes to an end on 30 June 2021. However, the old EEA Biometric Residence Card will no longer be valid after this date. This is so even if the date given on the card is much later than 30 June 2021. This means that non-European family members who only hold the old EEA Biometric Residence Cards need to make an application to update their Biometric Residence Card.
Updating your Biometric Residence Card
The application to update a Biometric Residence Card is free and fairly simple. The online form can be found here. Applicants will be asked for the ID document number they used to apply to the EUSS, the unique application number from their EUSS application, a consent form, and proof of their continued residence in the UK since their EUSS application.
Once the application is submitted, applicants will usually be directed to book a UKVCAS (Sopra Steria) appointment to provide their biometrics in person. However, demand for these appointments has been so high that some applicants are now being invited to use a smart phone app called the IDV app, instead of attending an in-person appointment.
After biometrics have been provided, applicants should be issued with a new Biometric Residence Card.
It is advisable for the non-European family members with only the old EEA Biometric Residence Cards to make this application as soon as possible, to ensure that they have a new Biometric Residence Card with which to prove their continued status in the UK. This is particularly important where non-Europeans intend to travel outside the UK, and wish to re-enter without facing questioning, delays or uncertainty at the border.
Updating Identity Documents
As an additional point for all those using the View and Prove online facility, it is important to update the identity document saved on your profile as and when this document expires and is replaced. It is unclear what will happen if those with status under the EUSS seek to enter the UK with different passports than the one currently saved on the View and Prove profile. It is possible that unless the document shown online is the same as the documents shown at the border, even Europeans could have difficulty entering, especially at the E-Gates.
Contact our EU Settlement Scheme Barristers
For expert advice and assistance with an application under the EU Settlement Scheme or to update a Biometric Residence Card, contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.