The UK is China’s second biggest trade partner in Europe after Germany and an ever increasing number of wealthy Chinese visitors chose to visit Britain each year -reaching a record number of visitors to London (second destination of choice after Paris) in 2013. As such, this move is really a natural progression and a no-brainer in bilateral agreements, which in our humble view should have come earlier. However, it is here now and below we recap on how it is meant to operate and what the Home Office intends to introduce to make travel to the UK easier and more inviting to Chinese business and regular visitors alike:
- A 24-hour “super priority” service for important Chinese business visitors
- This service will be available from August and will cost £600 for the fast-track service.
- A scheme to enable tourists to apply for a British visa at the same time as one for the Schengen area, which allows travel to other EU countries who are part of the Schengen agreement.
- Visitors will be able to use the same website to apply for both a British and a Schengen visa.
- The scheme, under which details recorded for a Schengen application can be automatically transferred onto the British forms is currently only available to those travelling to the UK in an organised tour group.
- It is foreseen and planned that in future, the scheme will also be available and apply to independent travellers.
Additionally, the Home Office has announced that the visa website will have improved translated guidance on how to fill in the application. New tablet and mobile apps will be introduced in future to allow travelers to apply more easily on devices of their choice.