Category Archives: UK Visa Processing

UK Trying to Simplify Visa Access for Chinese Tourists

The government recognised that it could greatly help the economy if the process was made easier for particular groups of people to come here on business, as students or as tourists. At the end of March 2013 the abolition of UKBA was announced. It was replaced with two services one of which is focused on making high-quality decisions about who comes here, with a culture of customer satisfaction for business men and visitors who want to come here legally.

Home Office ministers are to start talks with Chinese tour operators with the aim of setting up an easier visa application system for high spending Asian visitors. Chinese visitors can visit the whole of Europe on a Schengen visa apart from the UK and Ireland. Consideration was given to having one process for both visas but it was reported in the FT yesterday that Mark Harper the immigration minister, had considered this but it was ruled out because of complex issues around IT and data protection. He is keen to make the process as simple as possible for tour operators.The rest of Europe has not got a real vested interest in this issue and the only country that would stand to gain from this is Ireland. Visiting the UK is a bigger draw for the Chinese simply because of London, the Royal Family and it is so much bigger with so many places of historical importance to see. Once they have a visa for here it is very easy to then tag Ireland onto their trip.

In China there are two ‘Golden Weeks’ – Spring Festival Week and National Day Week which is at the beginning of October. During these two weeks, most people go out and enjoy themselves which boosts the economy, hence the nickname ‘Golden Week’. Increasingly Chinese people travel abroad and spend about £2.4 billion on luxury goods such as watches, perfume, handbags, designer clothes, fine wines and cigars. Retailers in the UK would like them to spend more of their money here. Selfridges for example employ Mandarin speaking staff and accept China’s main credit card which is China Union Pay. The last two weeks of July is also a period of high spend here as families and students prepare for graduation ceremonies.

These shopping sprees are important to the West End but also important for designer outlets throughout the country as they are popular too with the Chinese who want luxury Western goods at bargain prices. McArthur Glen is a company heavily involved in the development of these retail outlets and is so keen to encourage the Chinese to visit that it is a founder member of the UK China Visa Alliance which campaigns for the change in the visa application process. The Home Office is to begin publishing visa guidance in Mandarin from next month but the form itself will still be in English. According to a report in CNBC the French culture is something that exports well to China and consumers who are nouveau-riche want to do displays of conspicuous consumption. The Chinese consumers are already big buyers of French luxury products, wines and cheeses. According to Mark Henderson of the UK China Visa Alliance, we need to do more to make these people welcome and not just those who come here on tours but high net worth visitors who may never use a tour company.


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Appointment Fee for UK Visa for a Fairer and Faster System

Overseas business people and students have suffered from long delays in acquiring visas simply because they have not been able to get an appointment. The problem was caused by individuals and organisations booking several appointments at a time which then prevented others from taking up those appointments. 20 to 30% of the appointments were ‘no shows’ and a waste of visa officials time. According to a BBC investigation ‘scammers’ were selling free appointments for as much as £200 to people wanting to process their visas.

A new pre-payment system to help prevent the abuse and increase the efficiency of premium visa appointments was launched on the 8th April 2013 by Immigration Minister, Mark Harper. Visa applicants pay £375 for an appointment and will now have to pay a refundable deposit of £100 when booking an appointment. If they fail to keep it they will not get a refund unless they have cancelled it at least five working days days in advance. The Home Office also plan to launch an online application pre-payment service later in the year as part of its commitment to improving customer service.

Mark Harper said “We are determined to ensure that genuine visa applicants receive the very best visa service possible, and this is just one of the changes that we will be introducing to make sure this is the case.

The new system will help to make more appointments available for genuine applicants and help protect them from paying unnecessary and often unfair fees to agencies or individuals.”

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Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa Route | Changes from the 6th April 2013

Changes to the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa route will mean that you no longer have to pay the full application fee upfront, before you know whether your designated competent body will recommend your endorsement. They will no longer need to hold onto your passport while the designated competent body is considering your endorsement, allowing you to travel.

The process will be split into two:
Stage 1 will be applying for endorsement by a designated competent body.
Stage 2 will be applying for permission to work in the UK under this route.

Commonwealth Contractors

If you have exceptional talent or if you are a highly skilled International professional and you would like to work in the UK then Commonwealth Contractors can help. Our OISC Registered Partners specialise in Tier 1 General (formerly Highly Skilled Migrant Programme) visa applications and can assist those highly skilled individuals that either wish to apply or extend a Tier 1 General Visa.

For more Information call Commonwealth Contractors now on 0330 390 9021 or Submit your Details and we will get right back to you. Please see other areas of the Commonwealth Contractors site for interesting articles on tax, immigration and contracting.


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Adverse Immigration History

It is very important that at no time do you gain an adverse Immigration history (either through overstaying, deception or some other means) as you will not only have major problems securing a new UK visa but also potentially a visa for another country. (more…)

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Biometric Residence Permits

A Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is a card issued by the UKBA which holds your biographic details (name, date of birth, place of birth) along with your biometric information (fingerprints and digital photo). BRPs are currently issued for certain ‘in country’ applications. (more…)

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UK Visa Processing Times

The time it takes to process a Tier 2 General Visa application depends on many factors, including; whether the application is ‘in country’ or ‘out of country’, the country in which the application is being submitted, whether the applicant has dependents or not. (more…)

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UK Visa Costs

In order to apply for a UK Visa you need to pay a Government visa processing Fee. The level of fee depends upon the visa class you are applying for and whether the application is an ‘In Country’ or ‘Out of Country’ application. The tables below detail current Government visa processing fees. (more…)

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Overseas Visa Applications

If you’re applying for a Work Visa from outside the UK you will normally need to submit an application in your home country through one of the UK Border Agency’s commercial partners (i.e. VFS Global or WorldBridge Services). (more…)

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Premium vs Postal Visa Applications (Tier 2 General)

If you are based in the UK and you are looking to extend you visa, switch into a new immigration category or change employer you will need to submit a Tier 2 General visa application. Depending upon timeframes and how much you have to spend you can choose either the Premium or Postal route. (more…)

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