Home Office moves to make it easier for top foreign business executives to visit Britain
British employers could benefit from a new VIP visa service that will make it easier for the world's top business tycoons to visit the UK, the Government says.
UK Visas and Immigration's invitation-only Great Club will provide tailor-made support to about 100 top business executives with close ties to the country, the Home Office has announced.
Home Secretary Theresa May says the move will help boost economic growth and Britain's global competitiveness.
The foreign tycoons will still have to go through the same visa checks as other travellers coming to Britain but they will be assigned a dedicated account manager to ensure they experience a "swift and smooth" journey through the system.
A year-long pilot scheme will be launched in early 2014, the Home Office says, with other steps also being planned to encourage business visitors to the UK.
As well as introducing the new VIP visa service, the Government is set to expand its priority visa service from 67 countries to more than 90 by spring next year.
Meanwhile, a same-day visa service - already operating in India and soon to be introduced in China - will be made available in other important locations by the end of 2014, the Government has said.
A pilot scheme is set to be launched in India to enable business executives to keep their passports while their visa applications are being considered by the Home Office. And a mobile visa service will also be introduced there to allow VIPs to have their photo and biometric information taken at their place of work.
Mrs 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.
"We will continue to listen and respond to the needs of high-value and high-priority businesses so that we can provide them with a service that supports economic growth, while at the same time maintains the security of our borders."
Copyright Press Association 2013