U.K. to ease visa rules for Chinese nationals
Published : 2013-10-14 19:31
Updated : 2013-10-14 19:31
LONDON (AFP) ― Britain is to make it easier for Chinese nationals to obtain visas in an effort to boost business between the two countries, finance minister George Osborne has announced.
Osborne, who is in China leading a British trade delegation, promised the new measures would help the tens of thousands of Chinese visitors hoping to visit Britain.
“Have announced new measures to simplify + speed up visa applications for visitors from #China,” the minister wrote on his official Twitter account. “Good for tourism and British business.”
According to extracts of a speech due to be delivered at Peking University later Monday, Osborne will claim that the changes “will streamline and simplify the visa application process.”
Under the proposals, Chinese tourists visiting the European Union using selected travel agencies will no longer have to file a separate application to visit Britain.
Business people will also be able to apply for a “super-priority” visa, which will be processed within 24-hours rather than a week.
Osborne will also formally announce that the government is looking at rolling out nationwide its “mobile visa service,” currently being piloted in Beijing and Shanghai.
The service ― aimed at business executives ― enables visa teams to go to applicants’ workplaces to collect their forms and biometric data.
Some 210,000 visas were issued to Chinese nationals in 2012, adding around $480 million to the British economy.
The minister is trying to win over a Chinese government that has rebuffed Britain due to a meeting last year between Prime Minister David Cameron and the Dalai Lama.
Osborne was to say his visit was “the next big step” in U.K.-Sino relations and also insist “there is no country in the west more open to investment ― especially from China” than Britain.
“I don’t want Britain to resent China’s success, I want us to celebrate it,” he will say.
“I don’t want us to try to resist your economic progress, I want Britain to share in it.
”Because more jobs and investment in China mean more jobs and investment in Britain. And that equals better lives for all,“ he will add.
Osborne is in China with London mayor Boris Johnson, who welcomed the plans.
”You need to get more visas for talented Chinese people to come to the U.K.,“ Johnson told the BBC.
”When Chinese tourists come to London classically they spend very considerable sums of money ― it’s good news for the city.
“If it doesn’t happen it‘s a missed opportunity and I don’t want to see that business going to Paris,” he added.