On January 11 2016 a new two-year (multiple entry) visit visa exclusive to Chinese nationals was introduced. The visitor immigration category previously consisted of three different visa terms – six months, five years and 10 years. Those visiting the United Kingdom on a visit visa may spend a total period of only six months in any 12-month period within the country, regardless of the length of the visa granted.

The Home Office has also announced plans to make it easier for applicants from China to collect their visas before coming to the United Kingdom by extending the mobile fingerprinting service from nine cities in China to 50 cities.

Over the past six years, the number of visit visas issued to Chinese nationals has more than trebled. In 2009 115,000 visit visas were issued; in 2015 this figure increased to 484,065.

The two-year visa is a reciprocal agreement – UK visitors may also apply for a two-year visa to visit China. In order to apply, applicants will need to provide evidence demonstrating why they need a longer visa term. The usual restrictions in relation to employment, engaging in business and studying will apply.

For further information on this topic please contact Ben Sheldrick at Magrath LLP by telephone (+44 20 7495 3003) or email (ben.sheldrick@magrath.co.uk). The Magrath LLP website can be accessed at www.magrath.co.uk.

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.