Ladies and Gentlemen,
Last July, Prime Minister David Cameron visited Astana. At that time, he announced plans to make it easier for some Kazakhstani businesses to visit the UK.
Today I’m delighted to launch the next step. This will make it easier for all Kazakhstani citizens to visit the United Kingdom.
From today, this office here in Astana will be open three days a week to accept visa applications.
So we now have three United Kingdom visa application points in Kazakhstan:
- A user-pay office in Atyrau, available once a month
- A user-pay office in Astana, available three days a week
- And a free-of-charge office in Almaty, available five days a week
In addition, we will continue to process applications from members of the Kazakhstani Government, travelling on official business, as before.
But, ladies and gentlemen, there’s more!
I said that, when Prime Minister Cameron was here last year, he launched a pilot project to fast-track visas for some Kazakhstani businesses.
I’m delighted to say that, from the New Year, we will have a “priority visa system” in both Astana and Almaty. If you chose to use that system, we will try to process visa applications within five working days. Yes, there will be an additional fee. And this will only start in the New Year. It is not available now.
But we understand how rapidly business links between the United Kingdom and Kazakhstan are growing. And we want to encourage that even further.
Finally, can I thank our commercial partner here, TLS Contact, for their work. And I’m delighted to see here our customers who came to support the launch of this office.