China contributed to a massive quarter of UK visas issued globally last year, according to the latest quarterly report on immigration statistics published by UK's Home Office.
In the light of the statistics, more than 730,000 visas were issued to Chinese nationals in 2018, which equates to 25 percent of the total 2.9 million entry clearance visas granted, and represents an 11 percent increase from the previous year. Both Chinese visitors and students to the UK saw strong growth in numbers. According to the statistics, the number of visitor visas issued to Chinese nationals last year increased by 11 percent to around 588,000, while almost 100,000 Tier 4 study visas were granted, up 13 percent from the previous year, and is now around 40 percent of the global total.
Last year also saw a 26 percent rise in the number of short-term study visas of more than 31,000, and a 16 percent rise in the number of work visas issued to more than 6,000 Chinese.
The UK Ambassador to China, Dame Barbara Woodward, said the significant rise in visa applications demonstrates the growing strength of the relationship between the UK and China. "More and more Chinese people are choosing to visit the UK and we have seen a 400 percent increase in applications in the last decade," the ambassador said. "This is due to the steps we have taken to improve the visa application process including the launch of the two-year multi-entry visit visa." Woodward said that the UK is one of the top destinations in the world for Chinese tourists and students because of the UK's historic landmarks and the world's top universities.
Around 1.6 million visitor visas have been issued to Chinese nationals since the pilot launched in January 2016.
The 2018 statistics were released as the UK prepares to make major changes to its online customer experience to ensure a more convenient and flexible service for applicants. From later this month, applicants in China applying online will be able to seamlessly transition between the visa application form and the next stage of the application, which is offered by UKVI's commercial partner VFS Global, according to the British Embassy in Beijing.
This will allow them to book their visa application center appointment, scan and upload their supporting documents from the comfort of their own home, and purchase any additional services to enhance their experience in one continuous journey. Alternatively, applicants can have their documents scanned at the visa application center when they attend their appointment for a small fee.
These changes follow the global rollout of Access UK, UKVI's new streamlined online application service which replaces Visa4UK. The UK will also shortly be rolling out technology that will allow applicants to self-scan their biometrics when attending their visa application center appointment, providing a quicker and smoother experience.
The UK also announced that two new visa routes have been launched to attract business talent to the UK. The Start-up visa route will be open to those starting a business for the first time in the UK, while the Innovator visa route will be for more experienced businesses.
Courtesy of globaltimes.cn