Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) are biometric immigration documents that are issued to non-EEA nationals and EEA nationals, who have been granted permission to stay in the UK. Unless you use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to prove your identity when applying to stay in the UK, you will be provided with a BRP card. Employers and their HR staff must familiarise themselves with these documents as they will only have a statutory excuse if they have carried out the right to work checks correctly.
If your employee has been granted permission to enter the UK from abroad, they will first be issued with a vignette (sticker) in their passport which will be valid for 90 days to enable them to travel to the UK. Their BRP card should be ready for collection within two weeks from the issue date of their entry clearance vignette and they will collect it from the Post Office branch detailed in their decision letter. They must ensure to collect their BRP card no later than the expiry date of their vignette.
The Home Office encourages migrants to collect their BRP as soon as they arrive in the UK but, in the event your employee is required to start work before they get the chance to do this, you will need to ask to see the visa vignette and carry out the prescribed document checks on this. However, as the visa vignette is only valid for 90 days, the check will have to be repeated using the BRP for the statutory excuse to continue.
So, what do you do if your employee doesn’t provide you with the BRP within the 90 days? The Home Office’s guidance indicates that employers are not required to terminate employment immediately where they believe the employee continues to have the right to work.
However, you should bear in mind that once the 90 days has expired, you will not be able to establish a statutory excuse if it transpires that the employee is working illegally. You will also not know when the employee’s permission to work expires. Without the BRP, an individual will have no evidence of their right to be in the UK and their right to work here. They will also not be able to travel in or out of the country.
In addition to this, if a migrant does not collect their BRP from the Post Office, they would be in breach of the regulations requiring them to collect it and the Home Office has the power to take out a number of sanctions against the individual including a civil penalty or ending their permission to be in the UK.
On a final note, when carrying out biometric residence card checks, employers should carefully examine this document to ensure it is not false. If an employee provides a false document and it should have been obvious to the employer that the document was false, the employer could still be liable for a civil penalty.
BRP expiring on 31 December 2024
As part of the immigration system overhaul, BRP cards will cease to be produced from 1 January 2025. Employees will be able to prove their immigration status online, without a BRP.
Neither employers nor employees need to notify the UKVI if their BRP expires on 31 December 2024 and the their visa allows them to stay longer.
UKVI will update their information on how to prove immigration status in early 2024.
Further information on Biometric Residence Permits and how to check them in line with the right to work guidance can be found here.
If you have an immigration issue and would like our advice please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org