A new electronic visa waiver (EVW) system has been launched by the Home Office to make it cheaper and easier for Kuwaiti passport holders to travel to the UK for business and tourism. As part of a visit to Kuwait, UK Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood announced the EVW scheme will be introduced early next year.
The EVW will allow Kuwaiti passport holders to travel to the UK for a visit of up to six months by filling in an online form at least 48 hours before they travel to the UK. The scheme removes the need to give biometrics, attend a visa application centre or hand in passports in advance of travel. To cover the costs of the new system, a fee of £15 will be introduced early next year.
Speaking during a visit to the country, Tobias Ellwood confirmed that an improved EVW system had been in development over the summer, and that a pilot scheme is now underway to trial the system with a small group of selected Kuwaiti nationals. The testing phase will ensure that the new system is fully ready to meet the anticipated demand, before it is fully introduced in Kuwait in early 2016.
Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood said:
In light of the historic ties between our two countries, the UK is committed to introducing an electronic visa waiver system to facilitate the travel of Kuwaiti nationals to the UK. I hope that when the scheme is rolled out early next year, many more of our Kuwaiti friends seize the opportunity to visit the UK.
Home Office Immigration Minister James Brokenshire added:
The pilot electronic visa waiver scheme is an important step before the full system is rolled out officially early next year.
It comes following an increase in the demand for visas from Kuwaiti nationals over a number of years, which reflects the growing importance of our relationship with Kuwait and the region as a whole.
This scheme shows that Britain is open for business and we look forward to welcoming more and more genuine visitors and tourists coming to the UK.
Kuwaitis travelling to the UK during the testing period will be selected at random and invited to assist with the pilot phase. Until EVWs are officially introduced in Kuwait, full visas are still required for all travel to the UK, and Kuwaitis are still required to attend a visa application centre and provide biometric information as part of the application process.
Further details about the national roll out of the scheme will be announced in due course but until then current visa rules will apply and visitors can check the Home Office website for the latest information on the UK’s visa service.