Most immigration applications submitted from inside the UK require applicants to submit their biometric details. Because of Covid-19, changes were brought forward designed to speed up the process for some applicants.
Normally, applicants must book an appointment with UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) operated by the third party, Sopra Steria. At the UKVCAS appointment, applicants have their fingerprints scanned, submit their signature and a copy of their passport and have a photograph taken.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption to the UK immigration process.
When the UK went into lockdown in March 2020, UKVCAS biometric appointment centres closed. Normally, immigration decisions are only made after an applicant has attended their biometrics appointment, meaning there was a backlog of applicants waiting for the opportunity to provide their biometric details.
In July 2020, UKVCAS emailed some applicants informing them that they were eligible for ‘a new way of providing biometric details’ by the Identity Verification (IDV) app.
Although it was available for a short period of time to some other applicants, this ‘new way’ is now available solely for those applying within the UK under the Student or Child Student routes who have provided their fingerprints to UKVI since July 2015.
Instead of having to attend a biometrics appointment, applicants are able to ‘reuse’ their fingerprints which were recorded in a previous application. Through the app, applicants can also submit a live facial image (a ‘selfie’) and take a picture of their travel document. Further information is available on the UK Government and UKVCAS and websites.
The app is free to download and operates on Android devices which have a camera with a minimum of five megapixels and runs Android 7.0 and above, or certain Apple devices (iPhone 6 and above) which have iOS 12 and above. Answers to some common queries can be found on the UKVCAS FAQ page.
Those applying under different categories are now no longer able to use the IDV app and must book a UKVCAS appointment.
IDV app in practice
Applicants must be invited via email to use the app. In advance of submitting their facial image, applicants should upload their required supporting documents. It has been possible to upload supporting evidence for some time, and applicants should ensure that the documents meet the size and formatting requirements.
Frustratingly, no confirmation email is sent confirming that the documents and facial image have been uploaded successfully. When applicants reach the submission confirmation page, they are encouraged to take a copy of the details for their records.
It is hoped that this app will be used to help streamline the application process going forward as part of the new immigration system.
If an applicant has been invited to use the new app, they can choose to instead book a UKVCAS biometric appointment if they wish. There is a fee to book biometric appointments which varies depending on the location and time of the appointment.
How our immigration solicitors can help
Applicants must provide a variety of supporting documents to meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules and complete an online application, providing biometric details is only the last stage of this process.
We are experienced in preparing applications for leave to enter or leave to remain under the Student and Child Student routes. If you need further information about these routes, please contact us or complete our enquiry form below.