UK Visas and Immigration has introduced a new fast-track visa for global business leaders, called “The Great Club”. Under this new category, opening in the new year, top business people from around the world will be invited to apply for UK visas.
A pilot scheme testing the new premium ‘club class’ visa service will open in the new year will aim to recruit “100 global business leaders” who have strong links to Britain and who will be offered a free ‘bespoke support’ from the UK visa service, “tailored to each individual’s needs at no extra cost” during the 12-month pilot period. The UK Home Office says invitees will be provided with a personal account manager so that “their journey through the visa and immigration service is swift and smooth”.
UK Visas and Immigration also plan to improve their services for business users around the world by setting up a “business and growth network” to identify and provide faster, more efficient services to priority businesses that use the visa system.
Other proposed changes include plans to extend the “£100 extra priority three to five day visa” service from 67 countries to more than 90 countries. The “same-day visa” service currently available in India, is soon to be available in China and to several other countries by the end of 2014, for a £600 surcharge. 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 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”.
This follows other changes to provide more efficient immigration service. In March 2013, the UK Home Office “UK Border Agency” was replaced by UK Visas & Immigration (though still under the same website). Announcing the Great Club, UK Home Secretary Theresa May, said: “I created UK Visas and Immigration in March to provide a focus on delivering excellent customer service. These changes will allow us to maintain a world class, competitive visa system that can innovate in order to serve the ever-changing needs of business and ensure Britain succeeds in the global race”.