Joint UK-Irish visa to launch for Chinese, Indian travelers

14 Oct 14

UNITED KINGDOM, IRELAND

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? The United Kingdom and Ireland have entered into an agreement to ease business and tourist travel in the two countries for Chinese and Indian nationals.

What does the change mean? Chinese and Indian nationals will soon be able to visit both the U.K. and Ireland on a single trip and with a single visa. They no longer need to apply for separate visas for the U.K. and Ireland in advance of travel – one visa will cover both countries.

  • Implementation timeframe: The program will be implemented by the end of October for Chinese nationals and shortly afterward for Indian nationals.
  • Visas/permits affected: Single visit visas obtained by Chinese and Indian nationals who are traveling to the U.K. or Ireland.
  • Who is affected: Chinese and Indian nationals traveling to the U.K. and/or Ireland.
  • Impact on processing times: Once implemented, the program will reduce overall processing times for Chinese and Indian nationals because they will only need to apply for a single visa instead of two.
  • Business impact: The change to a single visa will lift a burden on business travelers.
  • Next steps: The program should be in effect for Chinese nationals by the end of the month and for Indian nationals soon afterwards.

Background: The U.K. government issued guidance on the new visa arrangement Oct. 6. It called the U.K.-Ireland agreement “one part of a joint program of work aimed at strengthening both countries’ borders.” The agreement will allow Chinese and Indian travelers to travel, for example, from London to Dublin without obtaining a second visa. Ireland’s Frances Fitzgerald, minister for justice and equality, said the change will “benefit the Northern Irish economy in particular” by making it easier to travel from Ireland to Northern Ireland, which is on the same island as Ireland but is part of the U.K.

BAL Analysis: The change will make it easier for Chinese and Indian nationals to travel to the U.K. and Ireland. It should be noted, however, that the switch applies only to certain travelers.

Chinese and Indian nationals will be able to travel to the U.K. and Ireland on the following U.K. visas: General Visitor, Business Visitor, Child Visitor (when accompanied), Student Visitor, Family Visitor, Entertainer Visitor, Private Medical Treatment Visitor, Sports Visitor, Parent of a Child at School, Prospective Entrepreneur, and Permitted Paid Engagement, and approved destination scheme. They can travel to the U.K. and Ireland using short-stay Irish visas to visit Ireland as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend a conference or event, or for business.

The program does not cover visitors in transit or visitors for marriage or civil partnership. Chinese and Indian nationals will also have to apply for a separate U.K. visa if they are traveling to Ireland on work or study visas. Travelers must travel first to the country for which they have a visa.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@balglobal.com.

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