United Kingdom govt planning biometric visa app

Joanna Estrada
November 3, 2018

But, according to the BBC, the app is only now working with Android phones, meaning people with Apple devices will not be able to scan their passport chips.

With the app, the Government said that people would be able to get a response as to whether their "settled status" application had been granted within two weeks. The BBC reports that Home Office officials were aware that Apple devices were not able to use the app when they announced it earlier this year, but hoped, along with others, that the company would remove the limitations with the rollout of iOS 12.1, but it has not.

The US tech giant has so far declined to do so, despite representations from United Kingdom government ministers, including a trip to the firm's Silicon Valley HQ by Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

Apple has declined to allow access, despite representations from United Kingdom government ministers, and a trip to the firm's Silicon Valley HQ by the home secretary, Sajid Javid.

MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee have already warned that the Home Office's new IT systems to support immigration plans post-Brexit face high risks, particularly in light of the time constraints facing the departments and its poor track record on developing systems. Home Secretary Sajid Javid visited Apple's Silicon Valley headquarters to make his case for the update, but Apple has kept the NFC chip locked for security and commercial reasons.

Sources say that Apple is continuing to work with the Home Office but would not be drawn on whether a solution is likely to be found before the United Kingdom leaves the European Union in March.

The Home Office told the BBC that it is "continuing to engage with Apple at the highest level", but sources working at the firm would not be drawn on whether a solution could be found before the United Kingdom leaves the European Union in March.

A Home Office spokesman said: "EU citizens will be able to apply for that status using any smartphone, tablet or computer".

If it's seen as a setback, then perhaps the UK Government should have approached Apple a little earlier.

I think Apple will eventually add this capability as things slowly start to shift digitally. Patently Apple posted a patent report on ePassports in August.

Apple noted in their patent filing that various governments are now issuing various forms of identification that are capable of storing identification information that can be used to authenticate a user.

The British government's plans for a digital system that authenticates the rights of European Union citizens after Brexit appears to already be running into problems, according to reports and an unimpressive performance by the Minister of State for Immigration in front of the Home Affairs Committee earlier this week.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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