The British Embassy in Doha has this week launched a digital campaign, offering guidance on visa requirements and processes for those travelling to the UK during Eid and the busy summer period. The campaign covers top tips on using the Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) system, applying for visit visas, including for domestic workers, and provides more information on additional premium and priority services provided by the UK visa service in Qatar.
Electronic visa waivers
The UK has operated a free EVW system for Qataris since the beginning of 2014, making Qatar one of only three nationalities in the world able to benefit from the service. Almost 30,000 Qataris have used an EVW, which allows access to the UK without a visa, provided details are registered at least 48 hours before departure, in the last year.
Registering for an EVW is a straightforward online process, and the vast majority of Qataris who use the service do so without any issue. There is no requirement for users to go to a visa application centre or to give fingerprints and the whole process can be completed at home. The digital campaign is designed to make visitors from Qatar feel welcome in the UK, to raise awareness of the EVW service, and to help travellers to avoid simple errors that a small number of users make when filling in the EVW form, which could potentially lead to travel delays.
Applying for a visa
While the EVW is perfect for Qataris planning short trips, the UK also offers an excellent service for those who choose to apply for a visa. Last month, visa applications made in Qatar were processed on average in less than 7 days, and in just 4 days for those using the Priority Visa Service.
And today, the UK has introduced a brand new service in Qatar which allows visa applicants to keep their passport while their visa application is considered. The service, which costs £40 / $64 in addition to the visa fee, is ideal for visa applicants who need to travel, or apply for other visas at the same time as applying for their visa to visit the UK.
Those using the service will need to show their passport at the time of application, but can submit copies rather than the document itself. Once the decision to issue a visa is made by UK Visas & Immigration, the applicant will need to resubmit their passport for a short period so that the visa can be placed in before it is returned to them.
In April, UK Visas & Immigration updated rules regarding overseas domestic workers seeking a visa to accompany their employer to the UK. When in the UK, domestic workers must be paid the UK minimum wage and as part of the visa application a contract must be submitted. Guidance on how to apply for a visa for an overseas domestic worker is available online at www.gov.uk/domestic-workers-in-a-private-household-visa.
During the campaign, the embassy will issue a set of top tips to help applicants through the process.
Top tips from the campaign include:
The names entered on the EVW form must match exactly the names in the passport being used to travel,
including any other characters (such as hyphens or apostrophes);
The passport number entered on the EVW form must match exactly the number in the passport;
The EVW is only valid for the journey being taken. Users must ensure that the flight number, point and time of departure and arrival on the form exactly match the travel itinerary.
If the flight is indirect, the flight details on the EVW must be of the final flight to the UK;
If EVW users change their travel plans, miss their flight, or choose a different flight, the EVW will not be valid for the new flight. They must complete a new EVW with the new travel details and this must be completed at least 48 hours before departure.
Visit visas allow multiple entries to the UK, and the holder can stay in for up to 6 months at a time.
The UK also offers multiple-entry long term UK visas, with validity up to 10 years.
The new “passport passback” service allows applicants to keep their passport while their visa is being processed.
And, for those needing to travel urgently, the UK offers a priority service for 3-5 day processing.
Sponsors must state they will pay workers the National Minimum Wage during their stay in the UK by completing the specified documents at www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-for-uk-visa-non-pbs-work-or-uk-ancestry-form-vaf2
Domestic workers must prove that:
they have been in ongoing employment as a domestic worker for one year or more prior to the date of application.
they are travelling with either their employer or their spouse, civil partner or child.
they plan to leave the UK after six months or at the same time as their employer, whichever is sooner.
The campaign also aims to promote how people should contact the UK visa service. For any enquiries on UK visas, contact points are available on the UK Government website