Immigration Update: New Electronic Visa Waiver Scheme for Middle Eastern Business Travellers

12 December 2013

As at 9 December the Home Office has proposed changes to the Immigration Rules to provide a new, straightforward and free alternative to a visa for short-term visitors from Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The intention is to extend the scheme to Kuwait later in 2014. These countries are currently visa nationals for the UK, which means that until now individuals have been required to apply for a visa in order to enter the UK as a visitor.

From 1 January 2014, passport holders from these countries will be able to travel to the UK visa-free if they have obtained an electronic visa waiver (EVW) document online at least 48 hours in advance of travel to the UK and present the document to an Immigration Officer upon request on arrival. A simple online form needs to be completed for which there is no fee and there will be no requirement to give biometrics or attend a visa application centre. Full guidance will be provided on the Home Office website in due course. Some visitors may still prefer a long-term multi-entry visit visa and the facility to obtain these visas will remain. It will certainly ease business travel for these passport holders and make the UK a more attractive destination for business travellers.

The concept is similar to that available for certain nationalities travelling to the US, though a fee is payable for the US visa waiver scheme.

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