China was responsible for a massive quarter of UK visas issued globally last year, according to the latest quarterly report on Immigration Statistics published by the Home Office
More than 730,000 visas were issued to Chinese nationals in 2018 – 25% of the total 2.9million entry clearance visas granted – representing a 11% increase on the previous year.
Both Chinese visitor and students numbers saw strong growth. The number of visit visas issued to Chinese nationals last year increased by 11% to around 588,000, while almost 100,000 Tier 4 study visas were granted, up 13% on the previous year and now around 40% of the global total.
2018 also saw a 26% rise in the number of short-term study visas, to more than 31,000, and a 16% rise in the number of work visas issued, to more than 6,000.
The UK Ambassador to China, Dame Barbara Woodward, said:
The significant rise in visa applications demonstrates the growing strength of the UK and China relationship.
More and more Chinese people are choosing to visit the UK and we have seen a 400% increase in applications in the last decade.
This is due to steps we have taken to improve the visa application process including the launch of the two year multi-entry visit visa.
The UK is one of the top destinations in the world for Chinese tourists and students because of our historic landmarks and our internationally respected universities.
Around 1.6 million visit visas have been issued to Chinese nationals since the pilot launched in January 2016.
The 2018 statistics were released as the UK prepares to make major changes to its online customer journey to ensure a more convenient and flexible service for applicants. From later this month, customers in China applying online will be able to seamlessly transition between the visa application form and the next stage of the application journey, offered by UKVI’s commercial partner VFS Global.
This will allow them to book their visa application centre appointment, scan and upload their supporting documents from the comfort of their own home, and purchase any additional services to enhance their experience, in one continuous journey. Alternatively, customers can have their documents scanned at the visa application centre when they attend their appointment, for a small fee.
These changes follow the global rollout of Access UK, UKVI’s new streamlined online application service which replaces Visa4UK. The UK will also shortly be rolling out technology that will allow customers to self-scan their biometrics when attending their visa application centre appointment, providing a quicker, smoother experience.
The UK also announced last week two new visa routes to attract leading business talent to the UK. The Start-up visa route will be open to those starting a business for the first time in the UK, while the Innovator visa route will be for more experienced business people who have funds to invest in their business.