The Home Office began 2014 on a positive note by welcoming, from 1 January, visitors to the UK from Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates under its brand new electronic visa waiver (EVW) scheme.
Since 9 December 2013, applicants from the three countries have been able to apply for and download an EVW document via the Home Office’s visa applications system Visa4UK in preparation for travel to the UK on or after 1 January.
The EVW document is available for all types of visit of up to 6 months, other than for the purpose of marriage or civil partnership. For education providers, this means that individuals, including child visitors, from the three countries who are coming for study visits of up to six months will be able to do so with greater ease. The move is also extremely positive for businesses in the UK, enabling them to invite Middle Eastern clients, colleagues and contacts without fear that visa processing delays will hinder business plans.
The EVW application form must be completed at least 48 hours before travelling to the UK and can be completed up to three months before. The process is free and takes less than 30 minutes to complete.
Approval under the EVW scheme does not, of itself, confer leave to enter the UK. Leave will be granted at the port of entry by Immigration Officers providing they are satisfied that the individual is a genuine visitor.
Individuals to whom one of the following applies should obtain visas in the usual way as they are unlikely to be approved under the EVW scheme:
- you have any unspent criminal convictions in any country, including the UK
- you have previously been refused entry, deported or otherwise removed from the UK
- you have breached the terms of any previous entry to the UK (for example, by working illegally or staying in the UK after your permission to stay expired)
- you have previously applied for a visa and been refused
- you have been warned by a UK official that you should obtain a visa before you travel to the UK.
If you need further information about this scheme, please contact us.