An important part of the application process when looking to extend a visa from within the UK, or to switch to a different visa, is to attend an appointment to provide evidence of your identity, and to submit your biometric information and supporting documentation.
However, with advances in modern technology, it is now possible for certain visa applicants to use the UK Immigration ID Check app, providing an alternative option to physically attending an in-person appointment. Below we look at how the mobile app works in practice when making an immigration application for leave to remain in the UK.
What is the UK Immigration ID Check app?
The UK Immigration ID Check app is a mobile app that can be downloaded onto a smartphone device and used to complete the identity verification stage of your application to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for further permission to live, work and study in the UK.
Also known as the Identity Verification (IDV) app, the UK Immigration ID Check app will allow you to send information to UKVI without having to book a face-to-face appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point. UKVCAS is the official partner of UKVI, providing vital services in connection with immigration applications, including confirming an applicant’s identity, enrolling any biometric information that may be required, and scanning the required documents in support of an in-country application.
How is the IDV app used in an UKVI application?
Having started your online immigration application with UKVI at GOV.UK, you will be told if you can use the IDV app. Designed by developer Sopra Steria Ltd, the same third party that runs and operates the UKVCAS service points, the app will:
- check that your identity document is genuine
- verify that this document belongs to you, and
- allow you to upload any supporting documents.
Prior to the introduction of the UK Immigration ID Check app, you would be given the option of uploading documentation into the UKVCAS online service or having this scanned at your UKVCAS appointment. However, even if your documentation was successfully uploaded online, you would still need to attend an in-person appointment to have your identity verified and your biometric information taken. Biometric information comprises a digital photograph of your face, a scan of your fingerprints and a capture of your digital signature.
Provided you are given the option of using the IDV app, this will instead allow you to verify your identity directly and re-use your existing biometric information from a previous immigration application. It will also allow you to upload documentation in support of your application, which will be directly submitted to UKVI. In this way, an immigration decision can be made on your application to extend your stay in the UK, entirely eliminating the need for you to physically attend an UKVCAS service point.
Who is eligible to use the IDV app?
To be eligible to use the IDV app, as an alternative to attending a UKVCAS service point, you must meet all of the following conditions:
- you must be applying for your visa from inside the UK
- you must have previously submitted your biometrics in an earlier application to UKVI, and
- you must have received an email invitation to use the app.
You must start your visa application and create your UKVI account online at GOV.UK before you can use the IDV app. As not everybody is eligible to use the app, you must wait for an email from UKVCAS, either inviting you to use the IDV app or to book a biometric appointment instead. Upon its first release in 2020, the IDV app was available only to those applying for a Student Visa. However, more recently, the app has been made available to a far wider range of visa applicants. This includes those applying for leave under the Skilled Worker and Graduate routes, or those applying to replace a Biometric Residence Permit or Card. It also applies to those applying for leave under the Private Life and Settlement Family Life routes, or indefinite leave to remain as a refugee, with humanitarian protection or discretionary leave.
Even if you are potentially eligible to use the IDV app, you will not be able to log into the app unless UKVI have identified that your application can be progressed on the app and have confirmed this via email. You will also need to check that you can use the app on your device.
For Android users, you will need an Android 7.0 and above, with a minimum 5-megapixel camera, at least 135MB of storage space and have NFC (Near-Field Communication) so that the app can scan your identity document. For iPhone users, the IDV app is available for iPhone 7 and newer models, using iOS 13.2 or a later software version, with at least 120MB of storage space. On either an Android or iPhone, you will also need to be connected to 3G, 4G or WiFi.
How do you use the IDV app to verify your identity?
Once you have started your visa application, provided you qualify, you will receive an email from UKVCAS with a link to download the IDV app. Once the app has been successfully downloaded onto your mobile device, you will be asked to log into your UKVI account using the email, password and unique application number (UAN) paired to your visa application. Your UAN number can be found on the email inviting you to use the IDV app.
When using the IDV app, you will be asked to complete an identification verification check by taking a photograph of your identity document, as well as a scan of your face and a “selfie”. While you will not be required to attend a biometric appointment because your fingerprints can be reused, you will still be required to upload a new facial image and undergo a “liveness check”, as your face can change, unlike fingerprints. The app will also ask you to check your document’s information by placing your phone over the biometric chip, although you may need to move your phone around the document until the app recognises the chip.
Any documents already uploaded to your current application through the UKVCAS website will be visible on the IDV app after you log on, although you can upload additional documents in support of your application using the app. It can be useful to clearly name your documents so that you know which ones have been uploaded as you systematically work through them.
When you press the ‘submit’ button on the IDV app, your application and documentation will be submitted to UKVI. As you can only submit your application once, you must make sure that you have uploaded all documents before you submit your application. You should be sent a submission confirmation email from UKVCAS. However, UKVI will only contact you directly regarding the outcome of your application or if they require additional information.
How much does it cost to use the IDV app?
As your biometric information is being re-enrolled and processed when using the IDV app, you will still be charged £19.20 for your biometric enrolment. This will be automatically added to your visa application processing fee. However, the IDV app is free to use, making it a much cheaper alternative to attending an in-person UKVCAS appointment. There are free appointments available through UKVCAS, but these are limited and demand is high. Non-chargeable appointments are mainly available Monday to Saturday, between 09:00 and 14:00.
The IDV app will therefore save money for qualifying applicants, as they will not be required to pay extra for chargeable appointments in order to submit their biometrics outside of working hours. The IDV app is also especially helpful for busy visa applicants who may not have the time to attend an appointment to re-submit their biometric information.
The whole purpose of the app is to save time and money, helping to streamline the immigration application process for a number of applicants. However, if you cannot submit all information via the IDV app, or you are asked to attend a face-to-face appointment to complete your application, you will need to book an appointment at a UKVCAS service point. This means that, depending on the time and date you choose, there may be a charge for that appointment.
If you have problems using the IDV app, for example, scanning your chip or completing your application, you should first attempt to contact UKVCAS before going ahead and booking an in-person appointment. It may be that any technical issues can be easily resolved, without the need to physically attend an UKVCAS service point. You can contact UKVCAS using their enquiries page, selecting Type of Enquiry ‘IDV App’ and explaining the problem. Alternatively, you can call the UKVCAS Support Line on 0844 8920232. Calls cost £0.04 per minute, plus your provider’s access charge, and lines are open Monday to Friday, between 09:00 and 17:30.
You can also call the UKVI contact centre on 0300 790 6268 — or 0203 875 4669, if you are unable to dial 0300 numbers — selecting option 3 in either case. This number is available Monday to Friday, between 08:00 and 20:00, and weekends, between 09:30 and 16:30.
Are there other ways to verify your identity?
If you are applying to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), although you will not be able to use the UK immigration ID check app, you will instead be able to download and use the EU Exit ID Document Check app. This is an app specifically for EU citizens and their families to complete the identity stage of their application when applying to the EUSS.
Even though the deadline to apply to the EUSS was 30 June 2021, you may meet one of the criteria for a later deadline or have reasonable grounds for not applying in time. You can also apply if you already have pre-settled status and are applying for settled status.
The EU Exit ID Document Check app operates in much the same way as the UK Immigration ID Check app, although online guidance can be found as to how use these apps at GOV.UK. The Home Office has also recently released guidance on 18 July 2022 specifically on “Biometric reuse”. This is the official guidance for UKVI caseworkers when dealing with the reuse of biometric information for immigration purposes, and can be a helpful way of assessing whether or not you are likely to qualify to use the IDV app.
If you are not eligible to verify your identity remotely, you must attend an UKVCAS appointment to enrol your biometric information. Equally, if you have been invited to use the IDV app, you can still choose to confirm your identity by booking an UKVCAS appointment. This may be because of technical issues that you have been unable to overcome, for example, where the app cannot read the chip in your identity document, or simply because you would prefer to have any required supporting documentation digitised and checked by someone else.
You can book an UKVCAS appointment online. You can do this by either clicking the link to book an appointment from your UKVI account or the link in the UKVCAS account setup email that you have been sent. You can also call the UKVCAS Support Line on 0844 8920232.
Importantly, the IDV app does not speed up the time it will take for your visa application to be processed, but it will give you greater control and convenience about when and where you complete it. If you do decide to book an appointment instead, or you do not qualify to use the app in the first place, there are various basic and VIP services that you can buy from UKVCAS to make an in-person appointment easier. These services range from document scanning and document checking, to a private appointment service at the London-based Premium Lounge. A full range of the appointment services available from UKVCAS can be found on their website.
UK Immigration ID Check app FAQs
How can I check my UK immigration ID?
It is possible for some visa applicants to verify their identity using the UK Immigration ID Check app, although you will not be able to use this app unless you have received an invitation via email from UKVCAS.
Who can use the IDV app?
The IDV app is available to those applying from within the UK who have been invited by UKVI to use the app.
How can I check my UK visa status online?
There is no online tool to check the progress of your visa application. However, it may be possible to contact the relevant department of UKVI with your visa status enquiry via either email or telephone.
What is Immigration app?
The Immigration app is a mobile app that can be used to verify an individual’s identity when applying for leave to remain in the UK. This is called the UK Immigration ID Check app or the IDV (Identify Verification) app.
Last updated: 19 August 2022