On December 1, Mark Sedwill, Director of UK visas in China, briefed reporters on changes to the UK's visa policy. He explained that the British Embassy in China would be introducing a fingerprint identification system, raising visa application fees and implementing a brand new visa application system in 2008.
The collection of fingerprints will be easier than in other countries as visa applicants will all need to have their prints recorded at one of the British Embassy's 12 offices across the country. In other countries, people have to go into consulates or embassies.
"It is very important to make the pilot program as convenient as possible for customers, and we have tried to make the procedure as efficient as possible," said Mr. Sedwill.
On average, it takes less than two minutes to take a fingerprint, and it will be possible to do this as part of the normal application procedure. Based on the new requirements, every visa applicant will have to appear in person.
The introduction of this technology is aimed at helping genuine travelers prove their identity and filtering out fraudulent applications.
"It is very important to understand the biometrics is not a measure to tighten up the opportunities for people from China or any other country coming to Britain," added Mr. Sedwill.
There may also be some changes to the application fees this year. The application fee will cover the cost of processing the visa. All the requirements will be set down by the British Parliament.
The British government has also offered some special concessions that other countries do not offer. For example, students will be allowed to work part-time while they are doing graduate or postgraduate degrees, and graduates will be allowed to work for one year in the UK after they complete their degree or PhD.
"When the applicants think about the additional benefits being offered, they can see that Britain is offering a very competitive package overall," added Mr. Sedwill.
Furthermore, the British Embassy will introduce a brand new visa system, probably in 2008, mainly targeting people who want to go to the UK for an extended period.
By People's Daily Online