UK announces beneficial changes for Chinese visa applicants

by Ray Clancy on October 23, 2015

The UK is making changes to visas for Chinese people, which will take effect from next year and will extend the validity of the documents and make them easier to apply for.

From 2016, standard visitor visas for tourists from China will be extended from six months to two years with multiple entry and a valid in the UK for two years and a new 10-year multiple entry visit visa will be introduced for the same price of £85.

tower-bridge-london-ukThe plans also involve making it easier for applicants. The current mobile fingerprinting service will be extended from the current nine cities to an additional 50 cities as part of an overall ambition to strengthen UK-China relations.

The move will bring significant benefits to the UK economy, according to Prime Minister David Cameron, who said China will also benefit from the arrangement.

The new multiple entry visitor visa arrangements being piloted for Chinese visitors will offer significantly better value in both cost and convenience and the UK government is also discussing with the Chinese government the potential to expand the existing UK network of 12 Visa Application Centres, already more than any European Union country.

Indeed, the changes amount to a much better deal than the standard Schengen visitor visa, which is limited to a maximum 90 days and puts the UK on a par with the 2014 United States offer.

Chinese tourists currently contribute £500 million annually to the UK economy with record numbers visiting the UK to make the most of all the retail opportunities and visitor attractions on offer. Visits are up 35% between April and June this year compared to the same period in 2014, according to latest figures from VisitBritain.

Overall, visit visas to Chinese nationals have almost tripled over the last five years from 115,000 in 2009 to 336,000 in 2014, with spending increased by 326%. With every Chinese visitor spending on average £2,688 every time they visit, the extension of the visitor visa will enable them to maximise their spending power even further.

Overall inbound tourism, one of its fastest growing services, was worth more than £26 billion to the UK economy in 2013, so the benefits of increasing Chinese tourism can also be seen in job creation where, for example, every 22 additional Chinese visitors create an additional job in the sector.

“China is becoming one of our fastest-growing tourism markets so making it easier and more convenient for Chinese visitors to come to the UK is extremely important. That is why the announcement I’m is great news for our tourism industry and great news for the British economy enabling us to maximise Chinese spending power even further,” said Cameron. “It will mean that the UK has the best offer in Europe for Chinese tourists and will build on our already strong people to people links, strengthening UK China relations further.”

Richard Dickinson, chairman of the UK-China Visa Alliance, welcomed the change.

“Prioritising longer lasting visas is a significant step forward in the campaign to encourage more Chinese visitors to the UK. It’s great value and reduces the need to apply for a new visa for every trip,” said Dickinson.

The UK has also been developing a dedicated team based in the British Embassy in Beijing which supports business, tourism and education sectors with their visa needs and earlier this year the UK and Belgian governments announced a new pilot scheme to further streamline visa application processes for Chinese visitors to the UK, Belgium and the wider Schengen area.

Under the new UK-Belgian Visitor Service, Chinese customers are able to submit visa applications for both countries during a single visit to a UK visa application centre (VAC). The new scheme means visitors from China are able to obtain a visa for both the UK and the Schengen area, of which the UK is not a part, without having to visit two different application centres.

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