This month, the UK and Belgian Governments announced a new visa service scheme which will allow Chinese nationals to visit the UK, Belgium and the wider Schengen area by making their visa applications at the same time. The new visa service scheme will be enforced from 1 July 2015 and will be implemented at the UK’s Visa Application Centres in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. Under the new scheme Chinese visitors who want to travel to the UK and Belgium as a main Schengen destination, will have the ability to make their UK and Belgium visa applications at the same time at a UK Visa Application Centre, with a single set of accompanying documents.
Chinese visitors coming to UK Continues to Increase
The visa routes for Chinese nationals who want to visit the UK for leisure, business or education has long been a debate for improving. Currently, Chinese nationals who obtain a visa to travel to Europe are required to make another visa application separately if they wish to come to the UK. The UK Government has made some changes in order to improve the visa services for Chinese nationals and are looking to continue strengthening the ties between the UK and China. Home Secretary, Theresa May explained the reasoning behind the new UK-Belgian Visitor visa:
“The number of Chinese visitors coming to the UK continues to soar. We already offer an excellent visa service in China and have made a number of changes to create a quicker and easier process for customers. This scheme will create a one-stop shop for Chinese visitors to the UK and Europe, whether they are coming here for business or leisure. We will continue to make sure our visa services are world-class to ensure that our borders are protected and that Britain remains open for business.”
According to the Home Office’s immigration statistics for October to December 2014 published earlier this year, the largest increases in visitor visa grants were for Chinese nationals (+12%; +35,537, excluding Hong Kong).
Changes to UK Visitor Visa
From April 2015, the UK Government has made a number of changes to the UK Visitor visa route with the intention of simplifying the process and attracting more visitors from outside of Europe. Originally there were eight different types of Visitor visas; this has now been reduced to just four:
- A Standard Visitor visa (which will apply to general tourists);
- Permitted Paid Engagement visa (waiting to undertake paid engagements such as appearing in concerts, theater or other performance arts);
- Marriage Visitor visa (to get married or enter a civil partnership in UK); and
- Transit visa (which is for individuals who are just passing through the UK).
It should be noted that the Standard Visitor visa has replaced the Family Visitor visa, General Visitor visa, Child Visitor visa, Business Visitor visa, including visas for academics, doctors and dentists, Sports Visitor visa, Entertainer Visitor visa, Prospective Entrepreneur visa, Private Medical Treatment Visitor visa and the Approved Destination Status (ADS) visa.
Whether you are a Chinese national looking for more information about the new UK-Belgian visa service or a non-EEA national who wants to visit the UK for one of the above mentioned reasons, please contact us to arrange a consultation with one of our expert Immigration Solicitors.
Contact us for successful UK Visitor Visa application
If you have been refused a visitor’s visa, your appeal rights are limited; please contact our expert immigration team to explore your options in light of the Home Office’s refusal decision.
Our team of experienced and professionally qualified solicitors and barristers will be able to guide you through the process step by step and limit the possibility of failure by complying with the strict letter of the law. Please always call us for a free telephone assessment and free case assessment even if you wish to consider other advisers.
Our Immigration Experts are able to give specialist legal information and advice in this area of law. To contact one of our Immigration Solicitors or Immigration Barristers please complete our legal case assessment form and we will get in touch or call us now on 0845 8622 529 for a free telephone assessment and free case assessment.