Theresa May announces upcoming overhaul to UK visa system
The visa system for those visiting Britain is soon to be overhauled by the Home Secretary Theresa May in an effort to increase ease of entry to the country for business people and performing artists. The reforms follow complaints from business leaders in London and elsewhere that the existing process is too cumbersome and a hindrance to efforts to expand the UK economy.
Changes to be introduced in April appear to completely scrap the current system, replacing it with just four types of visit visa. It is said that the reforms will apply to tourists and those travelling to the UK to marry. Going forward, certain categories may allow individuals to use the same visa to holiday in Britain whilst also attending business meetings – this currently requires two separate visas.
It has been suggested that under the new system the four categories will cover (i) general tourists, (ii) those waiting to undertake paid engagements such as appearing in concerts, (iii) those visiting Britain to enter into a marriage or civil partnership, and (iv) those who are passing through the country and require a transit visa.
“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,” Mrs May said. “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.”
The Home Office said it had drawn up the reforms after consulting with more than 100 organisations, ranging from business groups and tourism bodies to representatives from the worlds of science and technology.
We would hope that all groups concerned scrutinize the exact details of how the system will work in order to ensure it will address concerns and benefit those who it is designed to serve. If correctly implemented, these plans could bring about major improvements, resulting in a more streamlined application process than we currently have.