From 6 May 2014, individuals applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (“ILR”) under Tier 2 Sponsored Skilled Worker route will automatically have their passports and Biometric Residence Permits returned before a decision is made on their settlement application.
The implementation of this service will, it is aimed, return the passport and Biometric Residence Permits of Tier 2 ILR applicants within 7 – 10 days of their application “being created” by the Home Office. This does not mean that the travel documents will be returned within 7 – 10 days of the date of submission of the application but rather of the date on which it is entered onto the Home Office system after payment has been taken. We will need to see how this works in practice as it can sometimes be several weeks before the Home Office acknowledges receipt of an application and that payment has been taken.
Passports and Biometric Residence Permits will be returned automatically to applicants; it is not necessary to request their return.
Applicants will be able to travel whilst their applications are being considered but not after the expiry of the visa permission detailed on the Biometric Residence Permit. This marks an important change in UK immigration law where typically the act of travelling outside the UK whilst an application is pending is deemed to withdraw the application. The changes have been implemented in light of the frequent need for sponsored skilled workers to travel as part of their employment.
Applicants should remember that they cannot apply for ILR until the 60th month of their qualifying Tier 2/work permit permission. This normally means that an applicant can apply 28 days before their current visa expires, but this is not always necessarily the case.
RLegal would still advise clients not to make any firm travel arrangements before their passport and Biometric Residence Permit is actually returned because of the potential for delay.
If you would like to discuss your immigration matters with an expert, please contact us on +44 (0)20 7038 3980, via firstname.lastname@example.org or through our online contact form.