eVisa UK: Online Immigration Status



eVisas act as proof of an individual’s online immigration status in the UK and the conditions attached to their stay.

The UK’s immigration system is undergoing a process of digitisation, whereby the way in which visas are issued and the way you prove your status in the UK are changing.

The following guide sets out what an eVisa is, how they are used and what they mean for foreign nationals in the UK.


What is an eVisa UK?


UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) — the department of the UK’s Home Office responsible for issuing visas — is in the process of implementing a digital immigration system. Under this new system, physical immigration documents such as passport endorsements and biometric residence permits, are being replaced with online records of immigration status, called eVisas.

The eVisa UK is digital evidence proving your immigration status and the conditions of your stay in the UK. This online record is used to share relevant information, such as your right to work or right to rent. You will also soon be able to use an eVisa to travel in and out of the UK, where you will not need to carry a physical document, except for your current passport, although your passport must be registered to your UKVI account so that border officials can check your immigration status.

There are also various benefits to obtaining an eVisa, including the fact that a digital visa is secure and cannot be lost, stolen or tampered with, unlike a physical document. You will not need to wait for, or collect, a physical document after your visa application is decided, although you might still need to provide biometric information in person, where UKVI will tell you if you need to do this when you apply. It will also be quicker and easier to prove your status at the UK border.


Who needs an eVisa for the UK?


If you hold a UK work, study, or family visa, under the new digital immigration system, you will need to obtain an online status.

You do not need an online status if you are a British or Irish citizen, you are visiting the UK for less than six months or you have indefinite leave to remain, evidenced by a stamp or sticker in your passport—although you have the option to acquire an online status if you choose.

Millions of foreign nationals have already received an eVisa, for example, those who applied through the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) after the UK left the European Union. However, as a ‘digital by default’ system is now being rolled out by UKVI across most visa categories, soon almost all visa applicants will have an eVisa.

The documents being replaced in the UK by eVisas are:

  • biometric residence permits (BRPs)
  • biometric residence cards (BRCs)
  • passport endorsements, such as indefinite leave to enter wet ink stamps
  • vignette stickers contained in passports, such as entry clearance or visa vignettes.


Updating any existing physical document to an eVisa will not affect your immigration status or the conditions of your permission to enter or stay in the UK.


If you have a BRP


Since 1 January 2020, new BRPs have been issued with an expiry date of 31 December 2024, regardless of the individual’s period of leave. This is because eVisas are planned to be in place by this date, reflecting the individual’s actual period of leave. UKVI is now contacting BRP holders by email and post to invite them to set up a UKVI account in order to update permission to the form and access their eVisa, before their BRP expires on 31 December 2024. While you do not need to take action until you receive this notification, if your legal adviser’s contact details were provided as part of your Home Office application, you may need to check if they have been sent your notification.


If you have a passport stamp or vignette


If you rely on a passport endorsement or sticker to confirm your status for indefinite leave to enter or indefinite leave to remain, you will need to take action and make a ‘no time limit’ (NTL) application. If your NTL application is successful, you will be given a BRP and will be invited to create your eVisa account.



How to Access your eVisa


You can access this service to check your eVisa if the Home Office has contacted you with instructions. If you haven’t received any communication from the Home Office regarding this matter, you don’t need to take any action right now. Access to your eVisa should be available later in 2024.

To use this service, you will need to create a UKVI account and confirm your identity using the ‘UK Immigration ID Check’ app. These steps will help link your eVisa to your UKVI account, and you will be notified via email once your eVisa is accessible in your account.

Before beginning the process, make sure you have an email address and phone number available. You will also need access to a smartphone and your BRP card or a valid passport. Additionally, either your BRP number or your visa application number will be necessary to complete the setup.


What are eVisas used for?


eVisas are to prove UK immigration status online, including your right to work or right to rent. As part of the implementation plan, they will soon also be used to travel into the UK.


Right to work checks


In the context of employment, all UK employers must conduct prescribed right to work checks on each new employee, regardless of their nationality. This is to ensure that every individual that they hire has the legal entitlement to work in the UK and to do the work on offer. If an employer fails to carry out a right to work check, and to do so in the correct manner, they will be unable to establish a statutory excuse against civil liability if they are found to be employing someone illegally by reason of that person’s immigration status.

Those whose immigration status is now held online, as an eVisa, will now typically need to request a share code to prove their right to work.


How to Obtain a Share Code following Visa Approval Notice 


Visa Approval Notices are now advising workers on how to access their eVisa to get a share code. To get a share code, you will need to create a UKVI account visit the ‘Prove your right to work to an employer’ webpage at GOV.UK. Choose the relevant reason for sharing your information, and you will then receive a share code, which you can provide to your sponsor/employer. This share code grants them temporary access to the necessary information. Additionally, you must provide them with your date of birth to confirm they have your consent to access your information.

Your employer can use the share code to check the types of job that you are allowed to do and the length of time that you can work in the UK. If your right to work in the UK is time-limited, your employer will need to conduct a follow-up check when this is due to expire. This is to ensure that you have successfully applied for an extension of stay to be in the UK.

Once your UKVI account has been set up and accessed, any expired or invalid BRP you currently have – such as from a previous grant of leave, or if a replacement has been issued -will no longer be valid and should be disposed of securely.


Right to rent checks


In the context of renting property, all landlords looking to rent residential property located in England must first check that any new tenant over the age of 18 has the right to rent before entering into a tenancy agreement with them. As with right to work checks, this is to ensure that any tenants are lawfully allowed to live in the UK and that those without lawful immigration status are prevented from accessing the private-rented sector.

A right to rent check is again a prescribed form of online or manual check to be conducted by landlords, or letting agents, when letting privately-rented accommodation.

If you are an eVisa-holder, you will need to generate an online share code to prove your right to rent. To obtain a share code, you will need to visit the ‘Prove your right to rent in England’ webpage at GOV.UK using either your biometric residence permit or card number, or your passport or national identity card. If your right to live in the UK is time-limited, your landlord will also need to conduct a follow-up right to rent check when this is due to expire to ensure that you have been approved for an extension of stay to be in the UK.


Travel to the UK


Visa Approval Notices are currently advising individuals to avoid planning any travel outside the UK until they have received their new Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).

It’s important to carry your BRP with you when travelling, as you may need to present it to confirm your status, even after setting up your UKVI account. Once your UKVI account is established, ensure it contains updated passport details, which you can do at Update UKVI Account Details. Failure to keep your account updated may result in travel delays or being denied boarding by carriers.



How much does a UK eVisa cost?


The cost to apply for an eVisa will depend on the category of visa sought. For example, the standard fee for a Skilled Worker visa ranges from £719 to £1,500, while an application for settled or pre-settled status under the EUSS is free of charge.


How long does a UK eVisa take?


The length of time it takes for UKVI to process an eVisa application will typically depend on whether you are applying from inside or outside the UK. For eVisa applications made outside the UK, the processing time is usually up to 3 weeks, while applications from inside the UK can take up to 8 weeks. However, you may be able to pay for a faster decision.

Once you have been approved for an eVisa, from either inside or outside the UK, this will remain valid for the period of your grant of leave to enter or stay in the UK.


How do you access your UK eVisa?


As an eVisa is an online record of your immigration status, together with the conditions of your permission to enter or stay in the UK, you will need to register for an UKVI account to view and share relevant information about your status securely with third parties, such as employers or landlords. You may have already created an UKVI account when you first applied for your eVisa. You will also have created an account if you applied for a visa using the ID Check app, or applied to the EUSS, otherwise you can register for an UKVI account.

You can update personal details through your UKVI account, such as your contact or current passport details. Importantly, you must keep your passport details up-to-date in this account, and tell UKVI about any relevant changes, so that your immigration status can be easily identified at the UK border so as to minimise the possibility of delays.


Is the UK eVisa the same as an ETA?


The UK eVisa is not the same as an electronic travel authorisation (ETA). An ETA is a new online security system being introduced by the UK government to electronically screen non-visa nationals who are currently entitled to travel to the UK visa-free for up to 6 months. This could be for the purposes of tourism, transit, business or short-term study.

If you are a national of Qatar, you are already required to obtain an ETA, while nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will need an ETA if they are travelling to the UK on or after 22 February 2024. For nationals of other countries, an ETA is not yet needed, but more nationalities will soon be added to the scheme.

The ETA is commonly being described in unofficial online sources as the UK’s new Tourist eVisa, as the ETA will be digitally linked to your passport. Strictly speaking, however, this is not an eVisa, but rather authorisation to travel to the UK having been approved in advance following online pre-screening. As such, this does not guarantee entry to the UK where, on your arrival at a port of entry, you may still need to satisfy immigration officials of the purpose of your stay and that you are a genuine visitor to the UK.

A distinction should also be drawn between eVisas and electronic visa waivers (EVWs). An EVW is a visa waiver for nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where this will allow applicants to visit the UK for up to 6 months. However, by the end of 2024, nationals from these countries, plus all non-visa nationals, will be required to obtain an ETA to visit the UK. Once fully in force, it will cost £10 to apply for an ETA and you will usually get a decision within 3 working days, although you may get a quicker decision.

It is also worth noting that for anyone wanting to visit the UK for a purpose not permissible under the UK’s visitor rules, or for nationals who are currently required to obtain a visa even to visit the UK, they will need to apply in advance of travel for a suitable visa-type. Soon, many of these visas will not be issued as physical documents, but rather as eVisas.


What is the difference between a visa and eVisa?


A visa is the permission needed from UKVI to enter or stay in the UK, often in the form of a passport endorsement or physical document, while an eVisa is an online record of this permission.


Need assistance?


DavidsonMorris are UK immigration specialists. For advice on your UK immigration options, or any aspect of a Home Office application, contact us.


eVisa UK FAQ’s

What is a UK E-visa?

An eVisa is an online record of your immigration status and the conditions of your permission to enter or stay in the UK, where you can view and share relevant information about your status with employers and landlords.

How much does an E-visa cost UK?

The cost to apply for an eVisa depends on the category of visa that it relates to.

Can I apply for eVisa online?

Most applications for eVisas are made online. You may also be eligible to use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check' app to complete the identity verification stage of your application, rather than attending an in-person appointment.

Last updated: 21 April 2024


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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