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Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs)

Tier 4 student visas applied for in the UK and overseas are no longer issued in the form of a sticker in a passport. They are issued in the form of a separate card called a Biometric Residence Permit or BRP.

What are they?

BRPs provide information that help public agencies, employers, and educational establishments more easily understand the migrant’s entitlements.

To create the BRP the Home Office collect fingerprints and a facial image, otherwise known as biometrics.

Why are they used?

Taking an image of a person’s face and fingerprints and then locking them to that person’s details on a national register provides a safe and secure way of identifying that person, helps to combat illegal working, and reduces illegal immigration to the UK. The card provides a convenient, extremely secure and widely accepted way for any foreign national to prove their immigration status.

What does the BRP look like?

It is the shape of a credit card and shows the cardholder’s photo on the front, together with personal details and information about their immigration status. It shows whether the cardholder is allowed to do any work and if they are required to register with the police. The card includes a microchip which contains two of the cardholder’s fingerprints. See the Home Office website for an example of a BRP.

Will foreign nationals have to carry their BRP at all times?

The BRP does not need to be carried at all times. However, the card needs to be produced for specified immigration purposes such as returning to the UK from travelling abroad.

How long is a BRP valid for?

A BRP is valid for the duration of the person’s limited leave, or for a maximum of 10 years.

What will I need to do if I am making a Tier 4 application in my home country?

If you are successful in applying for a Tier 4 student visa outside of the UK (for longer than 6 months) you will be given a vignette (sticker) in your passport for 30 days to allow travel to the UK. You will also be given a letter informing you of the decision and details of where you must collect the BRP. If you provide the ACL (Alternative Collection Location) code of 2HE562 when making your application, it will be possible to collect your BRP from Cardiff University. On arrival in the UK you must collect your BRP within 10 days. You can be fined or your visa could be cancelled if you do not collect your BRP within 10 days.

What will I need to do if I am making a postal Tier 4 extension application in the UK?

The Home Office will wait until they have processed the fee for the extension application before sending you (and your dependants) a biometric notification letter.

The letter asks you (and your dependants) to attend a local Post Office branch in order to have your biometrics taken. You have up to 15 working days from the date of the letter to do this. The nearest Post Office to Cardiff University is on the lower ground floor of Queens Arcade (No. 45-46), Queen Street, CF10 2BY. 

  • You need to take the bar coded biometric notification letter to the Post Office.
  • It costs £19.20 per person.
  • Your biometrics are captured by taking your photograph, fingerprints, and digital signature.
  • All information is sent securely to the Home Office.

You can watch a step by step video guide on how biometric enrolment works on the Post Office website.

Find out more information on biometric enrolment on the Post Office's Frequently Asked Questions webpage.

UKVisas have provided a short video about providing your biometrics on YouTube.

After making a visa application, please do not make any arrangements to travel until you have received your documents and BRP. 

What will I need to do if I am making a premium in-person student visa extension application?

If you make your application in person, your biometric details are taken during the appointment at the Premium Service Centre. There is no charge for giving your biometrics.You are not given your student visa (the BRP) on the day of the appointment. It is sent to you by post within 10 working days.

Remember that you do not have your visa extension until you have the BRP. Do not make any arrangements to travel until you have received the BRP.

What will I need to do when leaving and re-entering the UK?

If you have a BRP and want to re-enter the UK, you will be required to show it at the border together with your passport to confirm your immigration status.

What if my personal details change?

Anyone holding a BRP is required to notify the Home Office of changes to the personal data it holds. Draft legislation sets out fines payable by anyone who fails to comply. The personal details which must be kept up to date include name, address, nationality and gender.The Home Office website explains the process to be followed.

What will happen if my BRP is lost or stolen?

We have produced an FAQ outlining the procedures to follow if your BRP is lost/ stolen in the UK or abroad:

 

What are the benefits of the BRP?

It makes it easier to:

  • provide proof of your right to live in the UK
  • prove your identity safely and quickly
  • get a job as potential employers can use the card to check identity and employment status quickly and easily.

Where can I get further information?

Further information is available on the Home Office website.

 

Disclaimer

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information herein, Cardiff University can accept no responsibility for errors or omissions. Cardiff University is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites and does not necessarily endorse the views expressed. The government makes changes to the immigration rules and procedures on a regular basis; it is important that you check the current guidance and rules when applying for a visa. For further information visit UKCISA and the Home Office websites.