Your Guide to UK eVisas and Immigration Changes
In the ever-evolving landscape of global travel and immigration, the United Kingdom has embraced a significant digital transformation with the introduction of eVisas. This innovative system marks a departure from traditional paper-based visas, offering a streamlined, secure, and environmentally friendly alternative. in global governance.
What is an eVisa UK?
An eVisa for the UK is essentially a digital record of an individual’s immigration status and the conditions of their stay, accessible through an online platform managed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). This modern approach simplifies the process of applying for and verifying visa statuses, aligning with the digital age’s demands for efficiency and accessibility, while ensuring robust compliance with immigration regulations. As such, the eVisa system represents a pivotal shift in how the UK manages its borders and immigration policies, reflecting a broader trend towards digitization. It replaces physical documents like biometric residence permits and passport endorsements with an online record. This eVisa is digital evidence of one’s immigration status and the conditions of their stay in the UK. Crucially, it serves as a secure, easily accessible record that can be used to demonstrate various rights, including the right to work, and rent.
Who Needs an eVisa for the UK?
In the United Kingdom, the transition to eVisas encompasses a broad spectrum of individuals seeking entry or residence. Primarily, this includes foreign nationals who require visas for long-term stays, such as work, study, or settlement, particularly those applying under various schemes like the Skilled Worker route or the EU Settlement Scheme post-Brexit. Additionally, as the UK continues to roll out its digital-by-default approach, almost all new visa applicants, irrespective of their purpose of visit, are being integrated into the eVisa system. This transition also applies to individuals who previously relied on traditional visa formats, including holders of biometric residence permits and cards. Thus, the eVisa system is becoming a central element for anyone needing authorization to enter, reside, or extend their stay in the UK, signifying a significant move towards a more digitized, efficient immigration process. If you currently have permission to stay in the UK and have either a BRP, a BRC or other physical documents to prove your immigration status, you do not have to take any action now. Further information will be announced in 2024.
UK eVisa and ETA: Are They the Same?
The UK eVisa and the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) are distinctly different concepts within the UK’s immigration framework. The UK eVisa is a digital version of a traditional visa, representing an individual’s permission to stay in the UK for various purposes like work, study, or residency. It’s an online record of one’s immigration status, replacing physical documents such as biometric residence permits or visa stamps in passports. On the other hand, the ETA is a pre-arrival travel authorization system primarily for non-visa nationals who wish to enter the UK for short stays, typically up to six months. It’s designed for individuals from countries that do not typically require a visa to visit the UK for short periods. The ETA involves a simple online application that screens visitors for security purposes before they travel.
Visa vs eVisa: What’s the Difference?
The primary distinction between a traditional visa and an eVisa lies in their format and accessibility. A conventional visa is typically a physical document or a stamp/label in a passport, issued by the relevant immigration authorities of a country. This physical manifestation of a visa signifies the holder’s eligibility to enter, leave, or stay in a country for a specified purpose and duration.
Conversely, an eVisa is a digital version of this traditional visa. It is an electronic record stored in a database, accessible through online systems. The eVisa contains all the necessary information regarding an individual’s immigration status, such as the purpose and duration of stay, but in a digital format. This electronic approach eliminates the need for physical documentation, streamlining the application and verification process and enhancing security by reducing the risks of loss, theft, or forgery.
The Purpose of eVisas
Visas serve several key purposes within the framework of modern immigration and border control systems:
- Simplifying the Application Process: eVisas allow applicants to complete their visa application process entirely online, from submitting personal information to receiving the immigration decision. This simplification leads to a more efficient, user-friendly experience.
- Enhancing Security: Digital records are more secure and harder to counterfeit compared to physical documents. eVisas can also be quickly updated or revoked by authorities, providing a dynamic tool for immigration control.
- Facilitating Border Management: With eVisas, border officials can instantly access an individual’s visa information through electronic systems, expediting the entry process and improving the accuracy of immigration checks.
- Convenience for Travelers: eVisas eliminate the need to carry additional documents beyond the passport, as visa information is electronically linked to the individual’s passport number. This convenience is particularly beneficial for frequent travellers.
- Environmental Benefits: By reducing the need for paper-based applications and physical stamps or stickers, eVisas contribute to environmentally friendly practices in global travel.
When are eVisas used for?
a. Right to Work Checks
- Verification of Work Eligibility: Employers in the UK are legally required to check that all their employees have the right to work in the country. The eVisa system simplifies this process by providing a digital record of an individual’s immigration status and work entitlements.
- Online Share Code System: Individuals with an eVisa can generate a share code through the UK government’s online service. This code can then be given to employers, allowing them to access the necessary information about the individual’s right to work.
- Reducing Paperwork and Errors: Since the information is stored digitally and can be accessed online, the eVisa system reduces the likelihood of paperwork errors and lost documents, making the verification process more efficient for both employers and employees.
- Timely Updates: The digital nature of eVisas allows for real-time updates of an individual’s immigration status, ensuring that employers have the most current information.
b. Right to Rent Checks
- Confirming Tenancy Eligibility: Landlords in the UK must check that all tenants aged 18 and over have the legal right to rent property in the country. eVisas facilitate this check by providing landlords with digital proof of the tenant’s residency rights.
- Use of Share Codes for Verification: Similar to the right to work checks, prospective tenants with an eVisa can generate a share code through an online service which landlords can then use to verify the individual’s right to rent.
- Streamlined Verification Process: eVisas eliminate the need for physical document checks, making the process quicker and reducing the risk of document loss or damage.
- Ensuring Compliance: By using the eVisa system, landlords can ensure they are complying with legal requirements regarding checking tenants’ immigration status, thereby avoiding penalties.
In the future you’ll be able to use an eVisa to travel to the UK – you will not need to carry a physical document, except for your current passport, which must be registered to your UKVI account. Until then you will need to continue to carry your physical document if you have one.
Applying for a UK eVisa
The application process for an eVisa is an online, streamlined version of the traditional visa application process. Applicants may need to provide biometric information and will receive a digital confirmation of their immigration status upon approval. Once the application and all necessary documents are submitted, UKVI reviews the application. The decision, along with instructions for the next steps, is communicated to the applicant, typically via email.
Cost of a UK eVisa
The cost varies depending on the visa category. For example, Skilled Worker visas have a different fee range compared to applications under the EU Settlement Scheme. This fee structure reflects the diverse nature of visa applications.
Processing Time for a UK eVisa
The processing time for a UK eVisa depends on several factors, including the type of visa, the applicant’s nationality, and whether the application is made from within or outside the UK:
- For applications made outside the UK, the typical processing time is about 3 weeks.
- For applications from within the UK, it can take up to 8 weeks.
- Expedited processing options may be available for an additional fee, offering faster decisions.
Accessing Your UK eVisa
Access is granted through a registered UKVI account. This account is a central hub for updating personal details, viewing visa status, and sharing immigration information securely.
Navigating the complexities of eVisas can be challenging. Our law firm provides expert guidance and support throughout the application process, ensuring a smooth transition to this new digital system.
The introduction of eVisas in the UK marks a significant advancement in the immigration process, offering enhanced security and convenience. Understanding the nuances of this new system is crucial for anyone navigating the UK’s immigration landscape.
How KTS can assist?
Our firm provides up-to-date, comprehensive advice and assistance in this dynamic and every changing area of law. We have a team of experienced immigration lawyers and paralegals who can provide advice and assistance with Immigrating to United Kingdom. You can reach on 0044 20 367 0505 or by email at email@example.com.