The Home Secretary Theresa May has announced that she is to address a number of flaws in the UK visa system that are proving particularly problematic for businesses.
Ms May's proposed reforms are broad but aim to reduce the confusion in the current system which includes around 15 different types of visas for foreign business travellers and performing artists. She is hoping that a reformed system with just four of these different visa types will simplify matters greatly for applicants.
In addition to cutting down on the confusion between different types of UK visa, the reforms will address processing times and red tape – areas for which the current government and Home Office have received extensive criticism in the past.
In a statement, Ms May said: “Fine-tuning the immigration system will help ensure we are demonstrating to the rest of the world that Britain remains open for business and that visitors are always welcome in the UK, whether they come for leisure or work.
“In a global marketplace we must make sure we stay ahead of our competitors as we work to carry on attracting the business and leisure travellers who will help our economy grow further still.”
More than 100 different organisations have been consulted as part of the changes. In addition to the extensive consultation of a number of different business groups and tourism bodies, the changes follow lengthy lobbying efforts by business groups and leaders who have argued against the coalition government's efforts to cut back on UK immigration.
Indeed, while the media and public discussion of immigration has largely focused on the negative, the business community has remained quite steadily in the opposite camp, citing the need for more entrepreneurs and skilled workers in the UK labour market in order to maintain economic growth.