The UK government has announced that, starting 23 February 2021, holders of certain biometric passports can use an app to apply for the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa. This represents another step toward the UK government completely digitizing its overall immigration procedures. Applicants who have BN(O), HKSAR or EEA biometric passports can use the app, called UK Immigration: ID Check, to submit their biometrics and validate their identity.
UK Immigration ID Check app: How it works
Using the UK Immigration ID Check app involves a few simple steps:
- Using their Android or iPhone, an applicant takes a photo of his passport’s picture page and scans the passport chip to extract biometric data.
- The app prompts the user to perform a face scan for comparison against the biometric image contained on the passport chip.
- The app verifies the document holder’s identity and confirms that the document belongs to the applicant.
iProov signed a multi-year deal with the UK in 2018 to provide its face biometrics for immigration processes through mobile apps such as this.
Political climate prompts UK to offer repressed Hong Kongers a way out
The Chinese government imposed the national security law in Hong Kong last year, in breach of its commitments under international law. In response, the UK government opened a new visa for Hong Kong BN(O) status holders with the BN(O) visa, which launched on 31 January. By digitizing the process of applying for the coveted BN(O) visa, the UK is offering Hong Kong natives facing Chinese political repression an easier way out of the former British colony. Due to the political climate in Hong Kong, many Hong Kongers find this approach preferable to attending a Visa Application Centre in person. To date, thousands of BN(O) status holders and their family members have applied to live, work and study in the UK under this visa.