As thousands of Chinese tourists bypass the UK when visiting Europe because Britain is not part of the Schengen are visa system, the Home Secretary this week announced a package of enhancements to the UK visa service aimed at China.
Currently 50% of visas are processed within 5 days and 97% within 15 days, but Chinese and other customers want a simpler, faster and more transparent easy to access service.
UK visa changes include:
Simplified Approved Destination Scheme (ADS) process
Shortened online application form and streamlined requirements for ADS customers.
Assistance for business: established business and dedicated Embassy staff to assist businesses with their UK visa requirements.
Unique service for business travellers and ADS tourists allowing customers to keep their passport while their visa is being processed. This means they can travel or apply for another visa if they need to, reducing the time it takes to get two visas.
Visa training for agents
New online visa training module for the Brit Agent network in China so they can better assist Chinese customers wanting to travel to the UK.
Mobile biometric capture
Not mobile phone biometric, but a mobile biometric service to be made available to applicants who want their biometric information taken at a location convenient to them, rather than visiting a visa application centre.
Priority visa eligibility
Expanded to include Tier 4 students and those who have previously travelled within the European Schengen visa area .
Improved application processes
Improved online application process (by April 2013) including translated application forms.
Enhanced Select Business Scheme
Enhanced scheme removing the onerous reporting requirements and bureaucratic reporting. Source: UK Border Agency.
By contrast Theresa May also announced British Embassy visa consular staff will interview more than 100,000 country targeted prospective students applying for Tier 4 visas to study in Britain.
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