The British Prime Minister has just announced a number of reforms to visa processing for Chinese visitors to the UK as part of the Chinese Premier’s visit.
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 six 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.
Other reforms include:
- Extending 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 Extending the 3 to 5 day priority service.
- Introducing a passport pass-back service, which allows customers to apply for the UK and Schengen visa at the same time.
- Launch 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.
- Developing a dedicated team based in the British Embassy in Beijing which supports business, tourism and education sectors with their visa needs.
- Reducing documentary requirements for the Chinese government-endorsed Approved Destination Scheme (ADS) for Chinese tour groups and repeat travellers.
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."