Transfer Your Visa from an Expired to a New Passport
Whether it is having your car MOT'd, the dog or cat vaccinated, or the boiler serviced, there is always something to do in our busy lives. One of these many 'to-dos' is applying for a new passport every ten years or so. And assuming we don't realise too late, when at the check-in desk for our Summer holiday, getting a new passport is typically straightforward in most countries, but migrants in the UK have the added need to transfer their visa. However, under the UK Home Office policy, you may be able to save yourself the cost and time of transferring your visa into your new passport, as we will explore in this article.
Do I need to transfer my visa to my new passport?
It may surprise you to know that you may not need to transfer your visa vignette. If it is for the purposes of travel in and out of the UK, the Home Office website confirms that you can continue to use your valid visa in your old passport; "Where an applicant's passport expires during the validity of a multi-entry visa, the visa (or leave) may be transferred to the new passport at their request. Applicants may be advised that any visa (or leave) endorsed in the expired passport remains valid and so applicants can if they wish, present their expired passport with the new passport. They would not, therefore, need to request any transfer. For transfers, the visa vignette in the expired passport must be presented, unless the applicant can demonstrate that the expired passport has been retained by the issuing authority". This means you will have to travel with two passports, however, but assuming you are organised, then this should not represent too much of a challenge.
If, however, you require your visa for the purposes of proving your right to work in the UK, you will need to transfer your visa to your new passport; as per the Government website, "You cannot use a valid visa in your expired passport to prove you have the right to work in the UK. You must replace your visa with a biometric residence permit. This is because according to the Government's 'Right to work checks: employer guidance' document, employers are legally required to verify that employees have a "current passport endorsed to show that the holder is allowed to stay in the UK and is currently allowed to do the type of work in question". Unfortunately, if you are unable to satisfy a Right to Work Check, your employer may then be unable to hire you.
If my personal details change, do I need to apply for a new visa?
Yes, under current Home Office guidance, you will need to replace your visa with a BRP, but only if you will be in the UK for six months or more and you have changed your name, nationality, facial appearance, date of birth, and/or gender.
You will not need to apply for a BRP if your personal details have changed but your stay in the UK will be less than six months.
Benefits of a Biometric Residence Permit
Biometric Residence Permits (BRP) offer some advantages over a simple visa vignette sticker. Not only are they easy and convenient to carry around, but they also allow holders to quickly and easily prove their right to live in the UK, their identity, and allow employers to identify a non-EEA national's identity, employment status, and right to work in the UK.
Applying for a BRP from within the UK
To apply for a BRP to replace your visa stamp, you will first need to apply online to the Home Office. As part of the application process, you will be asked to arrange and attend a meeting at a UKVCAS service centre to have your photograph taken and fingerprints scanned. The application fee is currently £161 and you can expect to receive your BRP within eight weeks.
For those in a hurry, the Super Premium Service is available which will ensure your application is processed by the end of the next working day (or two days if the appointment with UKVCAS is at the weekend). This faster service does come at a cost of £800, hence if speed is not a priority, you can save a considerable amount of money by using the standard application process.
Transfer your visa vignette to your new passport from outside of the UK
If you are outside of the UK, you can apply for a replacement visa vignette online for your new passport. The application fee is £169. You will, however, need to have your biometrics (fingerprint and photo taken) at your local UK Visa Application Centres (VACs). To check where your nearest service centre is located, please visit the TLS contact website if you are in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East or VFS global for all other countries. Do also bear in mind that many VACs remain closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown around the world.
It is recommended that where possible, migrants with a vignette sticker in their passport should apply for a BRP to prove their right to live and work in the UK. This will provide confidence when seeking employment or travelling that you have valid evidence of your immigration status to hand. If you require any assistance with your BRP, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to guide you through the process from application to a successful outcome.
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