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UK to offer 24-hour visa service

2014-04-09 09:40 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

The UK's visa application center in Shanghai will begin offering a 24-hour visa service sometime this summer following its recent office expansion, a consulate official said Tuesday.

All of the UK's 12 visa application centers in China have been expanded to handle the growing number of visa applicants in China, said Dominique Hardy, regional manager of UK Visas and Immigration Home Office.

The number of UK visas issued to Chinese visitors in 2013 jumped 39 percent year-on-year to 291,919, the largest increase of any country where the UK issues visas, according to British immigration statistics.

The 24-hour service will cost Chinese applicants about 600 pounds ($1,003) in addition to the 83 pounds in current visa fees, Hardy said, adding that details will be released later.

Last summer, the Shanghai visa center offered a 3-5 day priority visa service for tourists, business visitors, family visitors and skilled or temporary workers. In July alone, 11,000 people used the service.

The UK visa application center in Shanghai expanded from 448 square meters to 700 square meters when it moved from the ground floor to the third floor of the Guangfa Bank Tower on Xujiahui Road, according to a press release from the British Consulate-General Shanghai.

The new office can accommodate 120 applicants at a time. It features seven biometric enrollment rooms, where applicants' fingerprints are taken, and seven video conferencing rooms, where officials in the UK interview student visa applicants.

Chinese students hoping to study in the UK must do the interviews to obtain a student visa under rules introduced by the UK government.

An applicant must first fill out an application online, pay the fees and book an appointment before showing up at the center for the interview. The whole process takes about 20 minutes, according to an employee at the center.

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