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(Global Times) 08:22, September 03, 2021

Reports and videos showing Chinese students who failed to get their UK visas in time have triggered discussion among Chinese netizens, in which most of them questioned the reasons behind the delay.

Some students reportedly have paid around 8,000 yuan ($1,238) for visa services to study overseas, but they still didn't get their UK visa in time. They had concerns as they were afraid of missing their flights and not arriving in time for the new semester.

There were also concerns that the UK visa application centers in China may have delayed the process. Facing the chaos, the British Embassy in Beijing released a notice via its WeChat account on Thursday, saying "UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) are experiencing very high student visa demand in China and our Visa Application Centres are extremely busy. We apologize if your visa is taking longer than normal to be processed."

The notice was also posted on the outside window of the UK visa application center in Shanghai. "You will receive an email from VFS as soon as your passport is ready for collection. The VAC can only deal with customers who have received an email from VFS notifying them that their passport is ready for collection, or who have appointments for biometrics submission today," the notice said.

The center asked applicants not to line up at the center until they have met the above requirements.

On Thursday afternoon, the Global Times found that some people were still lining up at the UK visa application center in Shanghai, including some parents who were waiting for the visa results for their children.

A 50-something parent from Central China's Henan Province was waiting outside the center in a state of anxiety. She told the Global Times that her child applied for a visa on August 31 and asked for expedited processing within 24 hours, costing over 10,000 yuan ($1,548).

She had thought that the visa could be ready on Thursday so she lined up at the center in the morning. “If we can get the visa tomorrow, my child can take the plane in time on Saturday,” she said. “I hope we can get the visa in time so I didn’t change the airline ticket.” Flights to the UK currently cost around 6,000 yuan.

The UK has always been a popular destination for Chinese students. In 2019-20, over 500,000 chose to study in the UK, with over 148,000 from Chinese mainland enrolling for higher education, 8,200 for independent schools and over 51,000 for short term language studies, according to data from the British Consulate in Shanghai.

A student from Changsha, Central China's Hunan Province experienced a similar situation, having handed in the visa application on August 9, but not getting the visa as promised within 15 working days. Fortunately, the visa was ready on September 1, three days later than promised.

"I went to the offline visa center in Changsha and questioned the working staff over the reasons," the student told the Global Times on Thursday. "I phoned the UK visa office and I got the reply that my visa was ready. I don't know why it wasn't sent out," the student said.

"I changed my ticket because I was worried that I couldn't make it in time, and I lost over 1,500 yuan," the student noted. 

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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