In 2008 issuance of biometric cards replaced the old style visa vignette. The biometric card with personal biometric data (fingerprints and digital photo) have been issued to everyone, under any category applying and being issued a visa from within the UK.

As of 2015, anyone applying from outside of the UK to enter for stays over six months in length will also be issued with a biometric residence card, otherwise also known and referred to as Biometric Immigration Document (BID). The aim of the scheme is great security of UK borders, and prevention of access to the labour market and public services. The new scheme will also impose a number of new regulations and compliance obligations to foreign nationals and visitors. These include that foreign nationals must:

  • Apply for the biometric document when required;
  • Ensure the Home Office is kept informed of any changes to their circumstances;
  • Collect their biometric document in person from a specified UK Post Office within a specified number of days of arrival within the UK
If biometric residence cards will be required to be picked up on arrival to the UK, it still remains to be seen what the Home Office proposes to issue foreign nationals to present officials at a border crossing point before entering the country, in order to demonstrate their lawful ability to do so. This and stricter regulations on foreign nationals visiting the UK, as ever, leave unanswered questions  and room for concerns over the practicality of the scheme.