An upcoming change to the Immigration Rules demonstrates the Home Office is continuing to digitise immigration services for more applicants.
Since it became mandatory for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals to apply for immigration documents, it has been possible for them to do so using an ID verification app on their smartphone. In practice, so long as the applicant has a biometric passport, they can file their application online, upload their biometric data using the ID verification app and wait for a decision without attending an in-person appointment. The applicant is then issued with an e-visa.
From 30 November 2021, the Immigration Rules will change to extend the use of the ID verification app to more applicants, including non-EU nationals. Further information is likely to be issued soon. However, in principle the new rules will first apply to in-country non-EU nationals applying under the Skilled Worker or Student category, who already hold a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). This means that more people will be able to apply to switch their status or extend their visa without attending a biometric enrolment appointment. Applicants who use this service will also receive an e-visa, instead of a new BRP card.
It remains the case that applicants currently applying using the ID verification app do not have the option to purchase priority or super-priority processing. As application processing times can fluctuate quickly, it may still be necessary to utilise the in-person processing service where a faster decision is needed.