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UK Visa Extension vs BRP replacement – Things you need to know

We receive many queries each week from migrants in the UK whose visa and Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is about to expire. Most contact us to understand what they need to do next and to understand the immigration options available to them. This is always reassuring as by checking before their immigration documents run out, migrants will not be at risk of overstaying and potentially being forced to leave the UK. There is often confusion regarding whether visas can be extended, whether it is possible to switch from one visa to another, and the difference between extending a visa and extending a BRP. In this article, we will answer some of the frequently asked questions we receive regarding UK visa extensions vs BRP replacement, including what to do when a spouse visa is due to expire

Do I Need To Extend My UK Visa Or Replace BRP When My Visa Is About To Expire?

Your BRP expiry date match the expiry date on your visa. This is because UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) grant the BRP for the length of the visa being granted. If your BRP is due to expire, you will first need to apply for a new visa or extend your current visa first. When your new or extended visa application is approved by UKVI, you will automatically be issued with a new BRP.

If your visa is due to expire in the next few weeks or months, you will have four main options available:

  • Apply to extend your visa (if the visa can be extended – not all can)
  • Switch to a different visa (i.e. switch from their current visa to another while in the UK)
  • Apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) where the continuous residence requirement has been met (typically five years, but this may be shorter for some visa types)
  • Leave the UK

You must apply for a new visa or extend your visa before it expires, otherwise, you will be at risk of being an overstayer.

How Can I Get A New BRP Card In The UK If Stolen, Damaged Or Lost?

If your BRP has been lost, stolen, damaged, or lost, you can apply for a replacement if you are in the UK. You will first need to report that your BRP has been lost or stolen (if it is damaged, you will not need to report this; just apply for a new BRP). Once reported, you can then apply for a new BRP. The Home Office advises that you must apply for a new BRP within three months of losing it, or you risk receiving a fine of £1,000.

If your BRP only has three months or less remaining, then you only need to report it as lost or stolen if you plan to leave the UK once it expires. If you do plan to stay in the UK, then you can simply apply to extend your visa, and you will receive a new BRP automatically.

The process of applying for a replacement BRP is as follows:

  • fill in the online application form
  • prepare and submit documents you need to provide to UKVI
  • pay the application fee
  • have your biometrics taken (fingerprints and a photo) at an UKVI service centre

If you are outside of the UK, you will still need to report your BRP as lost or stolen, but you will only be able to apply for a new one when you return (within one month). You may need to apply for a replacement BRP visa, which will allow you to re-enter the UK.

Information And Documents Needed For A BRP Replacement

When applying for a replacement BRP, you will need to enter the following information:

  • Name/address/email/phone number
  • How long you have been living at your current address
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Date and place of birth
  • Nationality
  • National insurance number (if you have one)
  • Current visa type
  • How long you have lived in the UK
  • Any absences from the UK of more than six months
  • Home office reference numbers (if you have any documents with ‘Our Ref’ or ‘Case ID’ from the Home Office)
  • Your BRP number (if you have it)
  • When your BRP was stolen or lost
  • Passport details including place of issue, issue date, and expiry date

As part of the application process, you will be advised which documents you will need to provide to UKVI if any. You will need to provide your BRP if it is only damaged. In addition, if your passport details have changed, you may need to send this too.

Processing Time For BRP Replacement

It can take up to eight weeks to process a replacement BRP from within the UK.

What Documents Will I Need To Provide For A UK Visa Extension?

The documents you will need to provide for your UK visa application will depend on the type of visa you are extending. Some of the documents you may need to provide, depending on your visa type, include:

  • Current valid passport
  • Current Biometric Residence Permit
  • Evidence of ongoing sponsorship from a learning establishment or employer – for study or work visas
  • Evidence of ongoing endorsement from an endorsing body – for innovator and start-up visas
  • Evidence of the use of investment funds – for investment visas
  • Evidence of hiring UK workers – for business visas
  • Bank statements, birth certificates for any children, and details of accommodation – if extending a spouse visa
  • Any documents which show a change of circumstances – for example, if you have married or entered into a civil partnership or changed your name or address.

As you will be extending your visa, you may not need to provide the full set of documents you gave to UKVI when you first applied. You will be informed which documents to provide when you submit your extension application.

My Spouse Visa Is About To Expire, Do I Need To Apply For An Extension Or A BRP Renewal?

If your spouse visa is about to expire, you will need to apply for a UK visa extension, which will provide you with an automatic BRP renewal. If you have been in the UK for five or more years without being out of the country for more than 180 days in any twelve-month period, you may consider applying for indefinite leave to remain instead of extending your visa. This will allow you to remain permanently in the UK and apply for citizenship after twelve months.

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