After success in India, UK to roll out its expensive same day visa programme to 7 new countries
Posted on November 26, 2014
LONDON: Around 60 people in India have been applying for the Super Priority Visa Service – visa to UK within 24 hours every month ever since it was rolled out last year.
In China, over 100 such applications are being processed a month, according to UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
The Super Priority Visa Service in India and China ensures a decision on a visa application within 24 hours, removing lengthy bureaucratic hurdles which many businesses fear put off possible business travellers, investors and rich tourists and pushes them towards countries with a simpler service.
Each of these super priority visa applications however cost £600 above normal charges.
People living in Thailand, Turkey and South Africa will now be able to get a visa to UK within 24 hours.
Britain, in an effort to lure rich tourists and business executives has decided to expand its 24-hour fast-track visa programme to seven new countries from April 2015.
This same day visa was first launched in March 2013 in India followed by China.
The new countries to benefit from this scheme will also include United Arab Emirates and Philippines.
The government is keen to boost numbers from the UAE as they spend nearly £2,500 each per visit to the UK, while 75,000 Thai visitors spent £117 million in 2013 alone.
The announcement was made by Prime Minister David Cameron after he arrived in Australia for the annual G20 Summit where he will meet with around 30 global CEOs.
Downing Street unveiled plans to extend its successful 24 hour visa service to more business leaders, investors and wealthy tourists as part of the government’s efforts to support British businesses and to deliver “our plan to secure the long term economic recovery”.
The expansion will be rolled out by April 2015 to more countries, with G20 members Turkey and South Africa topping the list of seven which also includes the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, the Philippines and visa processing centres in New York and Paris.
The additional cities have been picked due to high demand from businesses and high value travellers.
Welcoming the roll-out of the service, the PM said “As part of our long-term economic plan, we are determined to do everything we can to back business, support investment and create jobs.
We are already taking action on that front including cutting corporation tax to the lowest rate in the G7 but we’ve got to keep listening to business about what more we can do to support them. And this new 24 hour service is another way we can help – it will persuade more business travellers, investors and tourists to visit Britain, to trade with Britain and to expand in Britain.
This is good news for British business and tourism, helping us to build a more resilient economy and secure a brighter future for Britain”.
Speaking to TOI, UK’s minister of state at the foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) in-charge of India Hugo Swire had said “Our signal to India is clear – we are open for business.”
Swire had told TOI “we want India to invest more in the UK. There is huge opportunity for investment as billions will be required for renewal of Britain’s public infrastructure.
India was the first country where the new single day visa was rolled out.
Current cost of a business visa for a short-term (up to 6 months, single or multiple entry) costs Rs 6650. A long term visa valid for up to 5 years costs Rs 42,200 while that for 10 years cost Rs 60900.
Over the past five years, on an average, 70,000 business visas have been issued per year to Indians.
Officials say the issue rate has been high with “almost all Indians who apply for a UK business visa get one.”
In 2012 for instance, 67,400 business visas were issued of the 69,600 applications received — an approval rate of 97%.
India remains the UK’s biggest visa operation in the world, processing around 400,000 applications each year. The Home Office says the vast majority of applications – over 97% of UK business visit visas and 86% per cent of visit visas — are approved and UKBA processes 95% of applications within 15 working days.
British High Commissioner to India Sir James Bevan recently said over 300,000 Indians come to the UK each year.
Tourism is a major contributor to the UK economy (9% of UK GDP and employment) which in 2012 attracted just over 31 million visitors, our best year since 2008.
Sir James Bevan said “By 2020 we aim to attract 40 million visitors a year. Indian tourists are central to that ambition. As India’s prosperity grows and its middle class expands, more and more Indians are looking to travel abroad. When they get on that aircraft, we are very clear where we want them to come: to the UK. But we never forget that everyone has a choice. There are 193 countries in the world: all of them have something to recommend them.”
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