Obtaining an entry visa to the UK will soon be made easier for citizens of Qatar and three other GCC states in response to complaints about delays and tedious procedures.
The UK Home Office will launch an electronic visa waiver scheme early next year that is expected to make it cheaper and easier for business travellers and tourists to visit the UK from Qatar, Oman, the UAE and Kuwait.
British Ambassador to Qatar Nicholas Hopton said yesterday that the new scheme comes in response to “concerns raised with us by the Qatari Government.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the new scheme at the Lord Mayor of London’s annual dinner on Monday, which is expected to launch in Qatar, Oman, and UAE in early 2014. It will be extended to Kuwaiti passport holders later next year.
The new electronic visa waiver (EVW) will be free of charge and is a quick and simple alternative to a visa application.
Applicants will need to submit an EVW online at least 48 hours before they are due to travel and it will do away with the need to provide biometric information, attend an appointment at a visa application centre or hand in passports prior to travel, said the statement.
The EVW will be available for visits of up to six months, however those coming to the UK to work or study will still need to apply for visas in the normal way.
Hopton said: “I am delighted that this new scheme will make it so much easier for Qataris to visit the United Kingdom. We look forward to welcoming even more visitors from Qatar to the country so many regard as their second home. This change will improve the service the UK offers to Qataris and responds to concerns raised with us by the Qatari Government.”
Visa applications from Qatar, the UAE and Oman are growing every year, according to figures released by the British embassy yesterday. A record 530,000 visitors from the GCC states came to Britain in 2012 (up six per cent on 2011) and 20,490 visas were issued to Qataris during the year.
Further details on the scheme will be announced in due course, until then current visa rules will apply and visitors can check the UKBA website for the latest information on the UK’s visa service, said the statement.
Follow us on our social media channels: