UK Eases Visa Rules For Chinese Visitors

By Editorial 15 October, 2013

Britain's Chancellor Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has unveiled plans to make it easier for visitors from China to visit the UK.

The moves will include a pilot scheme allow selected Chinese travel agents to apply for UK visas by submitting the EU's Schengen visa form, rather than two separate applications; a 24-hour "super priority" visa service from summer 2014; and the expansion to the rest of China of a VIP mobile visa service currently operating in Beijing and Shanghai. The VIP service enables visa teams to go to applicants to collect their completed forms and biometric data, with the whole process taking less than five minutes.

Osborne made the announcement while on a trade visit to China. He described the changes as "good news for China and Britain," and he explained that he was simplifying the visa process while maintaining the security of Britain's borders. He added: "Visitors from China can continue to have confidence that the UK remains open for business and leisure."

According to the UK Government, China is a priority market for tourism and business in the UK. In 2012, 210,000 visas were issued to visiting Chinese nationals, who went on to contribute around GBP300 million to the British economy. Further, Chinese students make up the largest group of foreign nationals in UK schools and universities, and the UK is the top destination for Chinese investment in Europe. More than 600 Chinese businesses now have a presence in the UK, which in the last year amounted to GBP2bn of investment.

Home Secretary Theresa May concurred with Osborne, stating that the UK is "continuing to attract the brightest and best to work and study in the UK, while preventing immigration abuse and bringing net migration down to the tens of thousands." She also promised "further improvements" in the visa system "wherever possible for visitors travelling independently or as part of a group."

There are currently twelve UK Visa Application Centres across China, six of which have extended opening hours. There is also an optional five-day priority visa service for eligible tourists, business visitors and skilled workers, and visa guides in Chinese. The Government says that in the first half of 2013, 96 percent of Chinese visa applications to the UK were approved, and non-settlement visas were processed on average in less than seven days.

Tags: China | United Kingdom | Expats | Travel | Visas And Passports |


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