A new priority UK visa service is being introduced in Hong Kong from today (Monday 04 February) that will allow applicants to move to the front of the queue for an extra fee. The UK Border Agency says that all applicants will be eligible to use the priority visa service in Hong Kong if they pay a fee of HK$990 which is not refundable if the application is rejected.
‘We aim to process all non-settlement applications using the priority service within three to four working days of receiving them. Settlement applications will be processed within 10 working days, a spokesman said. ‘Use of the priority service does not imply or guarantee that your visa application will be successful. All visa applicants must meet the requirements of the UK Immigration Rules. The fee for the priority service and the visa application fee are not refundable if your visa application is refused,’ he added.
The same service is being introduced in Brunei and in the Philippines the priority visa service has been extended to all business visitor and seafarer applicants. The eligibility criteria is also being changed so that it can be accessed by a General visitor or a Family visitor who has travelled in the previous five years to the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or a country in the Schengen area.
Quote from ExpatForum.com : “I would like to ask if my boyfriend can still come on holiday to the UK even though he has been denied a visa (if so what amount of time can he stay?)”
Meanwhile, changes have been made to speed up the visa application process for Chinese nationals in direct response to an increase in the number of people seeking visas to visit the UK. ‘We have shortened application forms for Chinese tourists, simplified documents required to make an application and started accepting photocopies of key documents. For businesses we have set up a dedicated network of staff to support them with the visa application process. The United Kingdom is open for business and tourism and China is one of the UK’s priority markets,’ said a spokesman.
Figures show that there has been a continual growth in visitor numbers from China. Between 2010 and 2011 the UK saw a 28% rise in visit visas issued compared to France, which saw 19% growth for the same period. In 2011 more than 283,000 visas from Chinese nationals worldwide were processed. ‘These statistics show that visitors from China want to come to Britain and that the door is open for those legitimate visitors who wish to do so. We are committed to providing an ever improving service, listening and acting on feedback from our customers,’ the spokesman added.
The UKBA website has information and guidance translated into Chinese and applicants have access to a Chinese language phone and email service. Online application forms will also be translated in Chinese from April this year. From Spring this year UKBA will also offer a service to some businesses where officials will go to them to capture fingerprints of their employees travelling to the UK, to help speed up the system even further.