As part of their overseas visa applications, applicants are required to enrol their biometrics at a Visa Application Centre (VAC). For most applicants, there is no difficulty in doing this (even if it is sometimes inconvenient). However, this may not be possible in some circumstances, and applicants may need to request that their applications are considered without enrolling their biometrics. The Home Office recently published new caseworker guidance which goes into more detail about how these requests will be dealt with and the criteria to meet.
An applicant can make a request for either:
Pre-determination – The applicant’s entry clearance application is predetermined before they decide whether to travel to a VAC to enrol their biometrics.
Biometric excuse – The applicant is excused from attending a VAC and the requirement to provide their biometrics is deferred until after they have been granted entry clearance and arrived in the UK.
The guidance states that any decision to predetermine or excuse an individual from this requirement is an exceptional occurrence. Therefore, the individual must have tried to resolve any difficulties they have travelling to a VAC before making this request. This includes exploring whether they can delay their journey until it is safe to travel, using an alternative VAC, paying for a ‘Priority Service’ for a quicker decision or where available using the ‘Keep My Passport’ service so they can travel to their home country whilst the decision is pending.
Where none of the alternative options are viable and the online application has been submitted, an applicant may contact the UKVI call centre to make their request. They must quote their application reference number and specify whether they are requesting a pre-determination or a biometric excuse.
The guidance states that:
Decision makers must consider all 4 criteria listed below and only agree to predetermine an application or excuse individuals from the requirement to attend a VAC to enrol their biometric information where they can demonstrate they meet all 4 criteria as follows:
Individuals must satisfy a decision maker about their identity to a reasonable degree of certainty before coming to the UK.
They must provide evidence they need to make an urgent journey to a VAC that would be particularly unsafe for them based on the current situation within the area they are located and along the route where they would need to travel to reach a VAC to enrol their biometrics, and they cannot delay their journey until later or use alternative routes.
They must demonstrate their circumstances are so compelling as to make them exceptional. which go beyond simply joining relatives who are living in the UK, for example, their UK based sponsor requires full-time care and there are no other viable alternatives to meet the sponsor’s or their young children’s needs.
They must confirm they are able to travel to any VAC if they want their application to be predetermined, or where they are requesting decision makers to excuse them from the requirement to attend a VAC to enrol their biometrics, they need to explain why they cannot attend any VAC, but are able to travel to the UK.
This guidance is very helpful in that it clearly sets out what the decision makers will and will not take into consideration. Although the Home Office will consider these requests strictly, it is hoped that if applicants make well evidenced requests, then they could be successful. It is also useful for immigration advisers when it comes to advising applicants making family reunion applications from countries such as Afghanistan or Sudan where it may not be safe to travel to a VAC.
If you require advice in relation to the above, we would be happy to help. Please contact us on 0207 401 6887 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.