UK to launch longer-validity Chinese visitor visas

29 Oct 15

UNITED KINGDOM

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? The U.K. has announced it will introduce two-year multiple entry visas to Chinese visitors in January, and move forward with 10-year multiple-entry visas.

What does the change mean? The visas will make it easier for business travelers to make frequent trips to the U.K. without having to renew every six months, as is currently the case.

  • Implementation time frame: January 2016.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visitor visas.
  • Who is affected: Nationals of the People’s Republic of China.
  • Impact on processing times: The longer validity will eliminate renewal processing for each new trip.
  • Business impact: The move is intended to boost business and tourist travel from China to the U.K. and will benefit frequent business travelers.
  • Next steps: Travelers may apply for the visas in January 2016.

Background: The U.K. government announced the following package of reforms for Chinese visitors:

  • Standard visitor visas will be issued with a two-year validity instead of the current six-month validity.
  • 10-year multiple-entry visas will be introduced.
  • Both the two-year and 10-year visas will stay at the current government visa fee of £85.
  • Mobile biometrics will be expanded to 50 cities in China.
  • Expansion of the number of U.K. Visa Application Centres in China will be discussed.

The U.K. is competing with other European countries for Chinese visitor traffic and the government noted that the new visas are more attractive than standard Schengen visitor visas which are limited to a maximum of 90 days. The changes provide Chinese visitors “the best offer in Europe,” according to a statement by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Chinese tourists currently contribute £500 million annually to the U.K. economy.

BAL Analysis: The longer-validity visas and other reforms will make travel more convenient for frequent business travelers from China to the U.K.

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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