During a visit to China on 14 October 2013, the Chancellor, George Osborne indicated that the visa application process for Chinese visitors was to be simplified. The Home Office has now announced the introduction of the following enhanced and streamlined services for processing UK visa applications in China:
- A 24 hour visa service is to be introduced for regular and business visitor applicants by the summer of 2014. The new super priority visa service will be in addition to the current priority (3 to 5 day) service, allowing visas to be processed in 24 hours.
- The VIP Mobile Visa Service is to be extended across China. The service was launched in April 2013, covering Beijing and Shanghai and allows senior executives to arrange for their application and biometrics details to be taken by a Home Office team at their office instead of attending a Visa Application Centre.
- UK and Schengen visa application processes to be further aligned. A pilot scheme is to be launched from November 2013 with selected travel agents for ADS tour groups who are visiting both Schengen countries and the UK. These agents will able to make off-line applications for tour groups, using Schengen visa application forms with a short addendum form. This is aimed at reducing duplication on the number of forms and supporting documents required to be submitted for those travelling to the UK and within Europe.
This change will extend the elements of UK and Schengen processes, already aligned in China, including some application centres and the Passport Pass Back service which allow applications to be considered simultaneously.
See also the Home Office website for full details.