1 July 2015
When applying for a settlement spousal, civil partnership or unmarried partner visa to enter the UK, successful applicants are now provided with a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) which will need to be kept carefully. The BRP must be collected within 10 days of arrival in the UK from the local Post Office, or the vignette (which is the temporary sticker in a passport necessary to obtain the BRP) will expire. In this case, another vignette will need to be obtained and penalties may be payable if the BRP is not collected in the ten day window as required by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Successful applicants will receive a letter confirming when and where the BRP will be available for pickup.
Those who have applied for a settlement visa as the partner or spouse of a British Citizen or UK legal permanent resident from outside the UK will be issued a 30 day vignette (entry clearance), so it is important to make first entry to the UK before the initial 30-day visa sticker expires. Until the end of July 2015 there are some exceptions to the time rule, but as this will apply worldwide by 31 July 2015, it is wise to follow the time scale guidelines from now. Those who are unable to travel to the UK within 30 days can apply for an extension. Another 30 day vignette will be issued on the payment of £122 and all biometric information will need to be resupplied, but there is no need to apply for another settlement visa. The vignette and the letter which will accompany it are both essential for entry into the UK and must be provided to the interviewing border force officers on arrival.
There is space on the UKVI settlement visa application form for up to three post codes which will represent the Post Offices in the UK from which the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) can be collected. These will be selected automatically based on the addresses provided on the form, in other words the address of the UK sponsor and the expected home address. If on reaching the UK these are inconvenient the Post Office can be changed for an extra fee. There is no need to make an appointment, but the Post Office will only be able to hand the BRP over if the original UKVI vignette (entry sticker) and the accompanying letter are provided by the visa holder. If it is not collected within ten days after arrival, the visa approval linked to it may be cancelled and there may also be a fine to pay. The Home Office also recommends that any applicant does not leave the UK for even a short visit to another country until the BRP has been safely collected.