Immigration applications - UKVI updates their biometric reuse policy

The United Kingdom’s immigration system has undergone significant changes in recent years, reflecting the evolving digital landscape of global migration. One crucial aspect of immigration processing is the collection and use of biometric data, such as fingerprints and facial recognition. Biometric data plays a vital role in ID verification and security checks.

Biometric reuse in immigration visa applicants

In 2020, in response to the difficulties caused by the Covid 19 pandemic, the UK government introduced a policy allowing for the reuse of biometric data for certain categories of visa applicants.

The approach aimed to streamline the immigration application process, reduce administrative burdens and reduce backlogs. Under the previous system, every non-EU national submitting an immigration application was required to attend an appointment and provide their fingerprints, a photograph and signature. Under the new process, eligible cohorts were able to forgo biometric enrolment appointments and instead provide a new photograph using the UKVI’s ID app.

Changes to who can rely on biometric reuse

Recent updates to Home Office guidance has added routes to the eligible cohorts for biometric data reuse. From 20 June 2023, individuals who hold a valid biometric residence permit (BRP) or a valid biometric residence card (BRC) will be allowed to reuse their biometric data if they are:

  • applying for leave under the Graduate route
  • applying for leave under the Skilled Worker and Student routes
  • a dependant partner of an individual applying under the above routes
  • a dependant child of an individual applying under the Skilled Worker and Student routes
  • adults applying individually for settlement on the Protection or Innovator routes (as main applicants)
  • children applying individually for settlement on the Protection route
  • applying for leave under the Child Student route and
  • applying to replace a BRP or BRC following a loss or theft

For eligible applicants, these changes can streamline the application process and reduce the burden of providing biometric data repeatedly. It can save both time and costs associated with attending biometric enrolment appointment.

However, it is essential to note that even if an applicant falls within the eligible cohorts, there may be exceptional circumstances or specific reasons that require them to provide fresh biometric data.

Looking ahead: digital immigration system

The Home Office are in the process of developing a wholly digital immigration system, with BRPs and BRCs due to be phased out by the end of 2024. We can therefore expect more development in this area.

Want more immigration application information? Contact our immigration team who are hand to answer your questions


The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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