What is biometric enrolment for UK visa applications?

Biometric enrolment is an important part of the visa application process in the UK. It involves collecting biometric data from applicants, which typically includes fingerprint scans and a photograph, for the purposes of verifying the applicant’s identity. The test helps in the prevention of identity fraud.

In most cases, the applicant provides their biometric data when they attend a visa application appointment. However, in some cases, applicants may need to attend separate biometric appointments to provide their information. You will be advised on supplying your biometric information during the application process.

This process is mandatory for most visa categories, and is an integral part of ensuring the security and integrity of the UK immigration system. It’s advisable to check the latest guidelines and requirements from the official UK government website, or contact a visa application centre, for the most current information.

Sopra Steria currently has the contract to provide this service in the UK. TLS and VFS are the contractor providers UK Visas and Immigration uses overseas.

What is ‘biometric information’ for UK visa applicants?

When applying for a visa, you may need to provide several types of evidence. This includes supporting documents that prove your eligibility to apply in a particular visa category, and biometric information that can be used to prove your identity. Applying for a UK visa in most cases means automatically applying for a biometric immigration document. The UK government is in the process of switching to digital proof of status in many visa categories, but biometric information will still need to be captured as part of that process.

There are two types of biometric information that visa applicants will need to supply:

  • Fingerprint scans: All ten fingers are scanned electronically to record the fingerprints. This is usually done at a visa application centre, and is one of the reasons that some applications cannot be completed online.
  • Photograph: A digital photograph is taken, usually at the same time as you have your fingerprints scanned. This photograph must meet certain standards – it should be a clear, front-facing image with no obstructions or headwear (unless worn for religious or medical reasons).

The collected biometric information is stored securely, protected and used in accordance with relevant privacy laws and regulations. It may be used by the government to verify the identity of the applicant at various stages, such as upon their entry into the UK. If you are applying to stay in the UK for longer than six months, you may be issued a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) upon your arrival that contains your biometric information. It can be used to prove your identity, your right to study and your right to any benefits or public services that you are entitled to use. Other visa applicants are issued with digital proof of status, which requires you to log into online Home Office systems.

How do I get a biometric appointment for a UK visa application?

Before you can schedule a biometrics appointment, you usually need to complete your UK visa application online. This involves filling out the application form and paying the necessary visa fee.

After submitting your visa application, you will be given the opportunity to book an appointment at a visa application centre and provide your biometric information. This information may be provided online, or you may receive a letter containing detailed instructions on how to fulfil this requirement.

You’ll need to book an appointment at an approved visa application centre or a biometric collection service point to give your biometrics. The information you receive after completing your application will usually direct you to a website where you can find your nearest centre and schedule an appointment. Appointment availability can vary, so it is advisable to book as early as possible. You must submit your biometric information within a reasonable window of time from when you apply for your visa, and failing to do so could introduce delays or cause your application to be rejected.

You will then attend the application centre on your scheduled appointment date to have your biometric information recorded. In most cases, you must bring your passport or travel document and a copy of your appointment confirmation. If you are told to bring other documents during the visa application process or in your appointment confirmation, you should also ensure you have them with you.

The process of providing your fingerprints and having your photograph taken is quick – it usually takes less than 15 minutes. There may be other aspects to your appointment, depending on the specifics of your application. After the appointment, you will wait for a decision on your visa application. Processing times can vary depending on the type of visa, your individual circumstances and a variety of other factors.

As such, it is crucial to understand the time limits that are imposed when applying for a visa. In some cases, you cannot apply more than three months before you intend to move to the UK. However, delays in processing your application can also occur, and it is crucial to manage this process effectively to give yourself the best chance of success.

Can I get help with the visa process?

If you need support with any aspect of the visa process, speak to an immigration lawyer for tailored assistance. The team at Latitude Law provides expert advice on visa applications for people from around the world who want to live and work in the UK.

We understand UK biometrics appointment requirements in detail, which means we can help you with compliance and reduce any stress that this process might cause. We can also support you in meeting any other eligibility requirements you might need to fulfil, and check your documents to make sure your application has the best chance of success.

Contact us

Get in touch with our team to learn how we can help. We provide support at all stages of the application process, from discussing your chosen immigration route to ensure it will best meet your needs, through to advising on the appeals process if you receive an unfavourable decision.

Call our offices on 0044 161 234 6800 (Manchester) or 0044 207 046 7185 (London), or use our online enquiry form to request a call back at your convenience.