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10 Jan, 2016

UK to launch 2-year visitor visas for Chinese nationals on Jan. 11

LONDON, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) — Britain’s new two-year visitor visas for Chinese nationals is to be launched on Monday, Jan. 11, the British Home Office announced Wednesday.

The new visa will cost 85 pounds (125 U.S. dollars), the same as the existing six-month visitor visa, and will enable successful applicants to make multiple trips to Britain.

Government Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said today: “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.”

“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,” said he.

The Home Office said the launch follows Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement of the pilot, during the state visit of President Xi to Britain in October 2015.

The new Chinese visitor visa will also enable visitors to make multiple trips to the UK for a longer period. It will also 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, to attend conferences or to investigate setting up a business.

The Home Office announcement also said increasing numbers of British citizens are visiting China and will now benefit from these same arrangements, with the Chinese reducing their 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 captures 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, of which 404,084 were visitor visas – a 22 percent increase.