UK launches new visa free scheme for Gulf countries

Passport holders of Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will be able to visit the UK for up to six months using an Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) from 1st January 2014.

The new EVW is free of charge and is a quick and straightforward alternative to a visit visa application. Those eligible for the visa waiver will be able to travel to the UK after completing and printing a short online form, 48 hours before travel.

Applicants from the three countries can already download an EVW using UK Visas and Immigration visa applications system Visa4UK. They will however, only be able to use it for travel to the UK on or after 1st January 2014.

Home Office said they intend to extend similar arrangements to Kuwait later in 2014.

The change follows increases in tourists and business visitors from these countries in the past year, with a 29% rise in visit visas issued to nationals from the Middle East. Globally, visit visas to the UK have increased by 15%.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: “The Electronic Visa Waiver scheme is another example of how UK Visas and Immigration is innovating in order to serve the needs of its customers and ensure Britain succeeds in the global race.

“Britain is open for business and genuine visitors and tourists coming here to enjoy our world class attractions, study or do business are always welcome.”

Please note that the EVW will be available for visits of up to six months. Those coming to the UK to work or study will still need to apply for visas in the normal way.

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