eVisas: UK’s Approach to Digitising Immigration Processes

Reshmi Tom

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Brief overview of digitisation in immigration

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is digitising the UK’s immigration system by introducing eVisas. This digital document will replace physical visa materials such as Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs), Biometric Residence Cards (BRCs), passport endorsements, and vignette stickers in passports. The transition from BRPs to eVisas began back in 2018 with the EU Settlement Scheme, and according to UKVI, the same will be fully implemented for all residence permit holders by the year 2024. Individuals holding physical residence permits will be notified when it’s necessary to register for a UKVI account to enable them to access their eVisas.

What is an eVisa?

An eVisa serves as an electronic record of an individual’s evidence of immigration status and terms of permission to enter or reside in the UK. Registering for a UKVI account is necessary to securely view and share pertinent information regarding one’s immigration status with third parties such as employers or landlords.

The transition from a physical document to an eVisa does not impact one’s immigration status or the stipulations of their permission to enter or stay in the UK.

In the future, travellers will be able to utilise an eVisa for UK travel without the necessity of carrying a physical document, barring the current passport, which must be registered to the individual’s UKVI account. Until such time, it is required to continue carrying one’s physical document if available.

eVisas offer several advantages which include:

  • Enhanced security: Unlike physical documents, eVisas cannot be lost, stolen, or tampered with.
  • No waiting period: Upon the decision of the application, there is no need to await or collect a physical document. However, it might still be necessary to provide biometric information in person, and the individual will be informed if this is required.
  • Expedited border control: Proving one’s immigration status at the UK border becomes quicker and easier.

How does eVisas work in the UK?

Each visa holder’s UKVI account will facilitate access to their eVisa, functioning as a real-time, up-to-date online record of their immigration status and outlining the terms of their permission to enter and reside in the UK. Not merely a digital equivalent of previous physical visas, eVisas will regenerate every time a visa holder accesses their account, thereby providing real-time updates of immigration statuses.

In order to access and validate their visa status, visa holders must initially input their credentials into the UKVI online portal. Subsequently, a one-time password will be dispatched to their email or phone number, which can then be utilised to generate the visa holder’s biometric, biographic, and immigration records.

Following this, the system will scrutinise each of the visa holder’s past and present applications and ascertain which immigration status to display for the individual in question.

What can you use the eVisa for?

The eVisa can be used as a way to prove immigration status of a candidate. The government is planning to digitise immigration and replace the following documents.

  • Biometric Residence Permits (BRP)
  • Biometric Residence Cards (BRC)
  • Endorsements in passports, which could include, for instance, an ‘Indefinite Leave to Enter’ stamp applied with wet ink.
  • Vignette stickers in passports that represent entry clearance or visa vignette.

The new eVisas can be used to prove immigration status for multiple purposes, such as the right to work, the right to rent, etc.

How much does it cost to get an eVisa?

The cost of getting an eVisa completely depends on the category of visa the applicant has applied for. For example, the costs involved with a skilled worker visa application might come differently from the cost of making a UK Spouse Visa. There are no additional costs involved on top of the usual visa fees the applicant has to pay.

How to get an eVisa?

The process of getting an eVisa is quite simple. There are no different steps one needs to take apart from the usual steps taken while applying for a UK visa. The whole idea behind eVisas is to go paperless and digitise the immigration process to make it easier and more efficient.

The most important requirement to access the eVisa is a UKVI account. One needs to register for a UKVI account in order to utilise the ‘view and prove your immigration status’ service and gain access to their eVisa. This account allows the user to share details to prove immigration status and conditions, including their right to work or rent in the UK. Moreover, it enables the updating of personal information, such as contact information and current passport details. It is important to note that there is no charge for creating a UKVI account.

Maintaining up-to-date details in the UKVI account is imperative, and any changes should be reported promptly. This allows for smooth identification of one’s immigration status at the UK border.

How can we assist with eVisa?

City Legal Solicitors is an immigration firm that provides services such as skilled worker visas, spouse visas, sponsor licences, and internship visas, among others. Contact our team at 020 8175 4000 or email us your queries at enquiries@citylegalsolicitors.co.uk. We are available to assist you with your visa applications from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday to Friday.


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