Last week, Britain hosted the first East West Forum event which saw Home Secretary Theresa May present a speech on what the East and the West can learn from one another. The event was attended by business leaders from Germany, India, China and the UK. The Home Secretary spoke on the many improvements that the UK is making to its visas services. From an improved work and student visa offer to ensuring customer satisfaction to the changes to the UK’s Chinese and Indian visa services.
Home Secretary: What East and West can learn from one another
At the event which took place on 12 September 2014 the Home Secretary said the importance of the event was to generate growth and promote the dialogue: what East and West can learn from one another:
“Controlling immigration doesn’t just mean reducing the numbers, it also means attracting the brightest and best. So today I want to talk about the role a well managed immigration system can play in promoting prosperity, providing educational opportunities, enabling the exchange of culture, knowledge and ideas, and encouraging greater friendship between our countries. The benefits of a well managed immigration system are deeply rooted in British values, and reflect our openness as an economy and society, our liberalism and our tolerance. And as I, and the government, appreciate, if this country is to succeed and win the competition for global talent, then we must be able to attract that talent from whatever it is to be found.”
“So I want to say to everyone here today: Britain is open for business and we welcome you here.”
Home Secretary: we must continue to make Improvements to our UK Visa Services
The Home Secretary went on to explain the number of improvements made to the UK visa system:
- An improved work visa offer: Closing down of Tier 1 General route, which found that a third of migrants were unemployed or in low skilled work to opening the Tier 2 route, which only applied for those looking for skilled jobs. As a result there has been a 16% increase in the number of Tier 2 Sponsorship licences to employ highly skilled migrant workers in the last year;
- Customer satisfaction: There has been a range of enhanced visa services for valued applicants and businesses. Transforming the immigration and border system, abolishing the UK Border Agency, and establishing three new operational commands. These changes have been made by listening to British businesses and travel companies. These improvements have been primarily directed at Chinese and Indian visitors;
- Chinese and Indian visa services: Upgraded an entire network of twelve Visa Application Centres in China to increase capacity. In the year to June 2014, almost 390,000 visas to Chinese nationals, up 22% on the year to June 2013. Chinese nationals who apply for a British visa are very likely to get one – with 96% of Chinese visit visas approved.
- Indian holds the UK’s largest visa operation in the world and more visa application centres than any other competitor country. In the last year over 400,000 visas in India and 90% of Indian customers who applied for a visa got one.
Theresa May says that although she is proud of the continuing improvements being made, she admits that more can always be done:
“I know we must continue to make improvements if we are going to stay ahead in a competitive marketplace. Importantly, we are working to make it much easier for Chinese people to visit the UK and Europe on the same trip. The changes we have put in place are ensuring that Britain remains an attractive destination, a place where people want to come to work hard, study and enjoy our tourist attractions. As I said earlier, Britain is open to the brightest and best. And I want to see Chinese, Indian, German and many other visitors from around the world coming here to and enjoying all the great things this country has to offer.”
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