Rules governing the issuing of visitor visas and UK work permits for Chinese nationals are to be relaxed as part of the Government’s efforts to encourage increased Chinese investment in Britain.
Chancellor George Osborne announced the easing of restrictions during his current trade mission to China. Currently, Chinese visitors need one visa to enter most of Europe but a second one must be issued if they want to travel to the UK.
However, trips booked via certain travel agents will now only require one visa. A scheme operating in Shanghai and Beijing is also being rolled out to other parts of China, where officials visit applicants to collect their visa information. On average, the process takes less than five minutes.
From next year, Chinese business people will also be able to apply to enter the UK via a 24-hour "super priority" visa service. The Government hopes the changes will build on the 210,000 Chinese nationals who visited the UK last year and brought an estimated £300m into the economy, the BBC reported.
Speaking to students in Beijing, the Chancellor said: "Let me make this clear to you and to the whole of China, there is no limit to the number of Chinese who could study in Britain. There is no limit to the number of Chinese tourists who can visit. No limit on the amount of business we can do together."
The relaxation comes just days after the Government published its latest Immigration Bill, which includes a number of new checks and charges for migrants who want to visit the UK or who are seeking UK work permits.