Britain’s new two-year visitor visas for Chinese nationals was launched on Jan 11, the British Home Office announced Wednesday.
The new visa will cost 85 pounds (800 yuan, or $122), the same as the six-month visitor visa did, and will enable successful applicants to make multiple trips to Britain.
“The launch of this new visa enhances our excellent visa service by offering better value for money and more flexible travel for Chinese visitors, while ensuring that the UK border is protected,” Government Immigration Minister James Brokenshire says.
“The number of Chinese visitors to the UK is rising year on year and this visa will allow Chinese visitors to further take advantage of the opportunities the UK has to offer for both tourism and business purposes.”
The Home Office says the launch follows Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement of the pilot, during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Britain in October.
The new Chinese visitor visa will provide eligible Chinese customers with a better deal than the standard Schengen visitor visa, which is limited to a maximum 90 days.
The two-year visitor visa will be available for the purposes of tourism, business, conferences or investigations into setting up businesses.
The Home Office announcement also says increasing numbers of British citizens are visiting China and will now benefit from these same arrangements, with China reducing its two-year visitor visa fee to the equivalent of 85 pounds (an additional service fee will still be charged) and, for the first time, matching Britain’s offer of a 10-year visitor visa.
There are also plans to extend the UK’s mobile fingerprinting service, which records the biometrics needed for applications, from nine to 50 Chinese cities.
In the year ending September 2015, Britain issued 484,065 visas in China, a 20 percent increase on the previous year, 404,084 of which were visitor visas – a 22 percent increase.