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UK digital visas to fully replace physical immigration documents by 2025

UK digital visas to fully replace physical immigration documents by 2025

In the UK, the Home Office has announced that it will invite those with physical immigration documents to create a biometric eVisa via email as part of the government’s greater plan to introduce a digital immigration system, with the goal of implementing eVisas for almost all visa holders in the country by 2025.

The Home Office will send emails to those with physical immigration documents called biometric residence permits (BRPs), inviting them to make a UK Visas and Immigration account in order to access their digital visa. Users will be able to update their information associated with the document more easily.

The process, which is free for physical document holders, will be available to all permit holders in the summer of 2024. Most BRPs will expire by the end of 2024, and all physical immigration documents will be phased out by 2025. Until they expire, the Home Office says that customers should keep carrying their physical documents as they travel internationally.

eVisas reduce the risk of fraud and improve border security, as well as eliminate the ability for documents to be lost or stolen. The digital transition will increase automation and be the next step towards a contactless border.

“We’ve already taken really significant steps to digitally transform the border and immigration system, and this wider rollout of eVisas is a key part of that process,” said the Minister for Legal Migration and the Border Tom Pursglove.

Replacing physical documents with digital visas will “ensure firm control over who comes here to live, work or study, strengthening border security and preventing abuse of the immigration system, while delivering cost savings for UK taxpayers.”

People can check their immigration status using an online service on Gov.uk. Some public entities can already access immigration status to conduct eligibility checks for public services.

Customers should continue to carry their in-date physical immigration documents with them when they travel internationally, until they expire.

The government has already introduced the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) scheme with selfie biometrics provided by Entrust as part of the digitalization of the UK border and immigration system. ETA is a digital permission for those wanting to visit the UK but who do not need a visa. It allows for travelers to be screened before they depart.

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