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Ministers are creating a new visa system for global business leaders amid concerns that moves to tighten immigration rules are deterring “high-value” individuals from overseas.
Around 100 wealthy foreigners will initially be invited to join a new “bespoke” visa service which the Home Office said will ensure their passage through the UK border system is “swift and smooth.”
Members of the “GREAT Club” will get a personal “account manager” at the UK Visas and Immigration service to deal with their travel plans. The manager will arrange vip visa services “tailored to each individual’s needs at no extra cost”, the Home Office said.
Officials declined to say who would qualify for the club, saying only that individuals in a position to make a “significant contribution” to the economy would be eligible.
Mrs May, the Home Secretary, will also announce plans to extend existing priority visa services (vip visa service) to business people in more countries. Rich visitors from India and China will be able to apply for same-day visa approval, instead of waiting several days.
The Home Office said that the new premium visa service was being introduced as part of the government’s economic growth plan to attract the “brightest and best to work, do business and invest in the UK”.
At present those who apply for a tier one visa which includes entrepreneurs or for an extension from within Britain can access a premium service if they apply in person for 1,920 pounds.
A Home Office spokesman said that business leaders will initially be offered “free membership” of the club which promises an “exceptional” service for those who apply from outside Europe.
This could include same-day processing and a mobile to your office service at standard visa fees.
According to the Guardian, a new mobile VIP visa service is also to be introduced in India.
The introduction of the fast-track business visa service follows repeated complaints about delays in processing visa applications, particularly in India and China.
The invitation-only fast-track visa service into Britain is to be launched by May in the new year.