Immigration Minister Mark Harper has highlighted the importance of the UK’s relationship with China at an event organised by the Cambridge China Development Trust.
Mr. Harper joined ministerial colleagues from across government in welcoming the continued growth in visitors from China, including 80,000 Chinese who chose to come to UK universities in 2011/12 – the largest single group of international students in this country.
Around 30 top Chinese CEOs and managers gathered at the event to hear about the attractive offer the UK has for Chinese investors, business people and skilled workers, and in particular how the Home Office is supporting key Chinese businesses through the visa application process.
“The UK is open for business and we continue to see growth in the number of Chinese nationals applying for a visa,” Mr. Harper said. “We have made significant improvements to the visa services in the past year and we will continue to make improvements to give customers the best service. Last year we processed almost 300,000 visa applications and 96% were successful.”
The Home Office has already introduced a number of new services in China including the option for key businesses to complete the biometric enrolment part of applications for their staff from within their own offices – a significant service development that has facilitated the investment of nearly £2bn into the UK.
The Home Office has also introduced ten year visas, a dedicated “business network” of staff to support Chinese customers, and a ‘passport pass-back’ scheme, allowing customers to keep their passport while their visa is processed, meaning that they can travel, or apply for another visa at the same time.
It has also extended opening hours to meet the needs of Chinese customers.