eVisa rollout begins with immigration documents replaced by 2025

London: The next stage in the government’s plan to modernise the border and introduce a digital immigration system is under way, as the Home Office moves closer to the implementation of eVisas for nearly all visa holders living in the UK by 2025.

From today (17 April 2024), the Home Office will begin to send emails to all those with physical immigration documents, called biometric residence permits (BRPs), inviting them to create a UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account to access their eVisa, a digital proof of their immigration status.

Invitations will be issued in phases before the process opens to all BRP holders in summer 2024.

eVisas are central to making the UK safer by reducing the risk of fraud, loss and abuse of physical documents, strengthening border security, and providing a more secure way to prove immigration status. This will pave the way for increased automation to deliver the government’s vision for a contactless border.

It is free and straightforward for customers who hold physical and paper documents to create a UKVI account to access their eVisa. Creating a UKVI account will not change, impact or remove customers’ current immigration status or their rights in the UK.

Minister for Legal Migration and the Border, Tom Pursglove MP, said: “We’ve already taken really significant steps to digitally transform the border and immigration system, and this wider rollout of eVisas is a key part of that process.

Replacing physical immigration documents with eVisas will ensure firm control over who comes here to live, work or study, strengthening border security and preventing abuse of the immigration system, while delivering cost savings for UK taxpayers.

eVisas bring substantial benefits to the UK public and to visa customers. They are secure, and, unlike a physical document, cannot be lost, stolen or tampered with. They can be accessed anywhere and in real time, putting customers in control of their own data and allowing them to swiftly update the Home Office with new contact or passport details.

An eVisa is securely linked with the holder’s unique biometric information in the same way as a BRP or BRC, to protect against identity fraud.

People checking immigration status will be able to conduct one quick and simple check using a secure online service on GOV.UK. Selected public bodies are already able to access immigration status to determine eligibility for public services automatically through system to system checks.

eVisas are tried and tested, with millions of customers already using them across routes including the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). Most physical documents, such as biometric residence permits or cards (BRPs or BRCs), are being gradually phased out, with most BRPs expiring at the end of 2024.

This move to eVisas is in line with other countries which have replaced, or are planning to replace, their physical immigration documents with digital forms of immigration status.

Customers who already have an eVisa do not need to do anything as we make this change, but should continue to update their UKVI account with any changes to personal information, such as a new passport or contact details. Customers should continue to carry their in-date physical immigration documents with them when they travel internationally, until they expire.

Physical immigration documents will be gradually phased out by 2025, as we transition to a fully digital border and immigration system for new and existing customers. This will deliver enhanced security and cost savings for the UK public and greater convenience for customers and status checkers.

Customers who already have an eVisa should tell the Home Office about any passport on which they intend to travel using the online Update your UK Visas and Immigration account details service on GOV.UK, if this is not already linked to their account, to avoid delays when travelling.

As part of the wider transformation of the UK border and immigration system, the government has already introduced the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme. ETA is a digital permission to travel to the UK for those wanting to visit but who do not need a visa. It gives the government greater ability to screen travellers in advance of travel and prevent those who pose a threat from coming here.