UK Announces Reforms to Visa Processing for Chinese
A number of reforms to visa processing for Chinese visitors
to the United Kingdom were announced on Wednesday by British Prime Minister
David Cameron following the Chinese Premier’s recent visit to the UK. Key
among these is that, from January 2016,
2-year multiple entry visas for Chinese visitors will be reduced
from £324 to £85 — the
cost of a standard 6-month visa. The PM also announced that the Government
is planning to reduce
the cost of 10-year visas from £747 to £85, although no date has
been set for this as yet. “China is becoming one of our fastest-growing
tourism markets so making it easier and more convenient for Chinese visitors
to come to the UK is extremely important”, Prime Minister David Cameron
said. “That is why the announcement I’m making today is great news for our
tourism industry and great news for the British economy enabling us to
maximise Chinese spending power even further.” According to the PM, the
reforms mean that the
UK has the best offer in Europe for Chinese tourists and
will strengthen UK-China relations further. Other reforms include:
the reach of the on-demand mobile visa service in China. This
service allows customers to provide their biometric data at one of 17
locations rather than being required to travel to a visa application centre.
– Upgrading the
12 visa application centres and
offering out of working hours appointments.
the 3 to 5 day priority service.
a passport pass-back service, which allows customers to apply for
the UK and Schengen visa at the same time.
of a new online application form, with fewer questions, translated guidance and
giving the option of pre-populating a Schengen form at the same time.
– Offering Premium service lounges in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou visa
application centres, reducing
waiting times for applicants and
offering personalised assistance at every stage.
a dedicated team based in the British Embassy in Beijing which
supports business, tourism and education sectors with their visa needs.
documentary requirements for
the Chinese government-endorsed Approved Destination Scheme (ADS) for
Chinese tour groups and repeat travellers.
“The industry has been pressing hard, led by the UK
Tourism Alliance, for a reduction in the cost of UK visas to Chinese
visitors. This shows that the government has been listening”, said the CEO
of the European
Tour Operators Association (ETOA), Tom Jenkins.
Mr Jenkins said it was “heartening” that governments are
starting to tailor requirements for each market as up until now it was “one
size fits all”, whether visa applicants were Indian, Chinese or Russian.
“We are not at the stage where clients can fill in the forms
in their own alphabet (let alone language), but this
is a step in the right direction”, he added.According to
visitors stay longer with an average holiday length of 10 nights compared to
6 across all inbound visits. British
fashion brands are particularly popular with the Chinese, and visiting a
luxury store is also reflected in high-spend across the Chinese market, with
almost 40 percent of Chinese visitors heading for shopping at luxury stores.