On 21 March 2013, in Beijing, the UK announced that its new ‘VIP mobile visa service’ and ‘passport pass back’ service will launch shortly to further support strong growth in Chinese visitors, and a new visa guide for independent travellers has also launched.
This announcement follows a 10 day programme of events to business, tourism and education representatives across China to further encourage growth and prepare for the 2013 summer peak UK visa season. Following on from the Olympics last year, 2013 is forecast to break all records again as the UK hopes to welcome over 350,000 Chinese people.
The new VIP mobile visa service will offer high value business customers the option of UK visa officers visiting their offices to collect biometric data and visa applications from their employees. The passport pass-back service, available to eligible business visitors and group tourists, will allow customers to retain their passport, allowing them to travel or apply for another visa whilst their UK visa is being processed.
The new visa guide for independent travellers is a simplified guide, outlining the visa application process in Chinese, for those wishing to apply for a tourist visa to the UK and will be available to travel agents.
The number of visas issued to Chinese nationals has risen rapidly in recent years. Immigration statistics released this month show that in 2012 we issued 75% more visas than in 2009 underscoring the UK’s increasing popularity as a destination for tourism, business and study.
Over 286,000 Chinese people were issued a visa in 2012, and International Passenger Survey statistics show 24% more visitors than in 2011.
2012 also saw 9% growth in student visas issued to Chinese with most of this from students destined for universities. The number of student visit visas issued also grew 24%.
With growth expected to continue strongly over the coming months, the UK Border Agency has recruited an additional 190 visa officers across its operation in China to ensure applicants continue to receive a fast and efficient service during the peak summer season.
96% of Chinese nationals who applied for a visa last year got one highlighting how straight forward the visa process is for the vast majority of applicants. The success rate for students is even higher at 98%.
The new visa services and resources are in addition to other recent enhancements for customers which include:
- an optional priority visa service for business visitors and tourists which returns visa decisions within 5 working days
- a simplified ADS process, including shortened on-line application form and streamlined requirements
- launch of two new step-by-step Chinese language visa guides for Business Visitors and ADS agents and their customers
- the establishment of a Business Network in China with dedicated UK Border Agency staff to assist businesses with their visa requirements
These improvements reflect the special importance placed on tourists and business visitors from China and are part of an ongoing programme of continuous improvement for customers.
Matt Heath, Regional Manager, UK Border Agency China said:
We’re very pleased to be launching new premium services to further support the strong and continued growth in visitors from China.
China is a priority market for the UK and we’re committed to ensuring we’re meeting the needs of Chinese customers.
96% of Chinese visa applicants were successful in receiving a UK visa last year which shows that it’s not difficult to get one and with the recent improvements and new premium services customers should find the process very straight forward.