Last week, the Home Office confirmed that there will be a new ‘British-Irish scheme’ starting this Autumn. The new scheme will allow visitors from certain countries to travel to and around the Common Travel Area (CTA) on a single Irish or UK visa. The new scheme has been created to replace Ireland’s short-stay waiver introduced in July 2011, which allowed visitors on a UK visa to enter Ireland for a short period. The scheme is expected to boost tourism and business visits.
UK’s Home Secretary Theresa May: We look Forward to Welcoming Many more Nationals
The new British-Irish visa scheme was announced by Ireland’s minister for justice, Frances Fitzgerald, who stated that tourists and business visitors from India and China will be allowed to travel freely in the CTA;
“China and India will be the first to benefit from this ground-breaking scheme and I look forward to the successful implementation of the new arrangements in respect of both of those countries.”
UK’s Home Secretary Theresa May added:
“Our two governments are proud of what the UK and Ireland have to offer to Chinese and Indian visitors, and we look forward to welcoming many more to our countries through this new scheme”.
The scheme is expected to boost tourism and business visits in the UK and Ireland, as the scheme has been designed to simplify the process for visitors from China and India. The implementation date has yet to be confirmed, but it is expected to come into fruition in Autumn 2014. If the scheme is proven to be successful, the British-Irish visa will be offered to other nationalities.
British Prime Minister David Cameron & Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang keen to Strengthen Business ties
Following the pilot programme of a new fast track application service last year with tour operators, the UK is in negotiations with European partners to allow Chinese visitors to apply for visas for Britain and Europe’s 26-country Schengen Area through a single application process. Changing the original process for Chinese visitors to the European Union who have to submit separate visa applications for the UK.
From British Prime Minister David Cameron’s trade visit to China to Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang’s three day visit to the UK, both countries are keen to strengthen business ties. According to the Confederation of British Industry,the UK’s relationship with China is extremely important to the countries economic future:
“A well-functioning work permit and visa system is vital to ensuring that the UK is a vibrant hub for international trade, visitors and students.”
According to the Home Office statistics for visitor visas issued between 2012 to 2013, there was a 40% increase for visas issued to Chinese nationals. This is said to be due to the introduction of a priority visa service and the opening of 12 visa application centres across China.
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