Britain


UK and China relax working and visiting visa arrangements

by Ray Clancy on July 7, 2014

Both the UK and China have eased various visa arrangements for nationals as they work towards being able to do more business.

Work visas in China are normally restricted to short-term placements and linked to a specific employer, with long-term residency green cards rarely granted and visa and work permits renewable annually.

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Expats say China is the most difficult country to get a green card for

Now, there is to be a more flexible approach — one greatly welcomed by the 800,000 expats living in China who say that getting a green card in China is the most difficult in the world. Only 72,000 were issued in 2013, according to the most up-to-date figures.

The Chinese government has become more relaxed about foreign workers and sees them as having the potential to be a bigger source of tax if they stay longer in the country for work purposes.

At the same time, the UK has announced it is easing access to visas for Chinese tourists and business people in an attempt to strengthen ties between the two countries.

The changes include a single visa to allow Chinese tourists to travel to both Ireland and Britain, and a simplified online application form for independent travellers.

Britain is also in talks with European partners to allow Chinese visitors to apply for visas for Britain and Europe’s 26-country Schengen Area through a single application process, following a 2013 pilot programme with tour operators which sped up applications.

The current requirement to apply separately has been blamed for encouraging Chinese tourists to plan multi-stop trips in the Schengen Area which extends from Finland to Portugal and includes France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland, but skip the additional work required to get a visa to visit the UK.

According to the Confederation of British Industry, deeper links with China are critically important to the UK’s economic future. ‘A well-functioning work permit and visa system is vital to ensuring that the UK is a vibrant hub for international trade, visitors and students,’ said a spokesman.

The introduction of a priority visa service and the opening of 12 visa application centres across China has contributed to an increase of nearly 40 per cent in the number of visas issued to Chinese visitors between 2012 and 2013, according to the Home Office.

 

 

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