A new fast-track UK visa scheme has been introduced for Chinese students seeking to study in Britain.
The Tier 4 visa route is now the subject of a 10-week pilot project, which aims to provide approval for eligible applicants within 24 hours.
The scheme is open to students aged 18 and above who are applying for their Tier 4 visas at UK Visas and Immigration centres in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. There will initially be 100 appointments offered a day for the service but the pilot may expand the number depending on how popular the fast-track UK visa proves to be.
The super priority service is charging £750 in addition to the usual £322 cost of applying for a Tier 4 visa. It aims to speed up the current priority service, which offers visa decisions for students in three to five days.
However, UK Visas and Immigration said that a 24-hour turnaround was not guaranteed for those opting for the pilot super priority service.
It said: “All applications will be based on their individual merits in line with the UK’s immigration rules. Super priority visa service applications are processed with the highest priority.”
The organisation introduced super priority processing to other classes of UK visas for Chinese applicants in 2014. In the year to the end of March 2016, it handled 3,000 such applications.
If the Tier 4 trial proves to be successful, it’s likely to be extended into a permanent service.
But student bodies in China are concerned that the high cost of fast-tracking an application will put off many people seeking to study in the UK.
Yang Huan from Studying Abroad Live said he did not expect the service to be popular due to the cost and commented that more people would use the approval route if the fee was halved.