As Britain wants to re-balance its economy and sell more industrial and commercial goods around the world, the government is looking e.g. towards China and the economy balance there. This necessarily means that the UK must encourage investment and analyse the benefits and drawbacks of competing on the world markets. As part of this expansion of good trading relations the rules governing the obtaining of a Visa have to become less of a hurdle to jump to obtain and easier access is needed for the information you need.
Recently as reported by the BBC (October 14th, 2013), the chancellor announced that the rules needed to be relaxed regarding entry of Chinese visitors to the UK. A spokesman for the British Chamber of Commerce agreed that it was crucial for the UK to have a more responsive Visa system to demonstrate that the country is welcoming and open to trade and investment. This does not only apply to Chinese investment and tourism but should be applied to world wide commerce.
With this type of media coverage becoming more public it seems that even though the E-Borders control system is in place it still has failings. Gaining a Visa is obviously not as simple as it appears to be on the Home Office UK Border Agency website. Reports of very bizarre questions being asked of Visa applicants are still making the news. This week The Times reported that a poll had been done of 1,400 visitors by a specialist website dealing with Visas – the poll included applying for visas to other countries not just the UK. Weird questions were asked of the applicant's e.g. Describe your moustache/beard. This was on a Mexican visa application, How many wives do you intend to bring? This was on a Middle Eastern visa application. What side of the bed does your wife sleep on? This was asked by the US authority when trying to verify the authenticity of a marriage by someone who wished to make a permanent move to the US. The odd questions were substantiated by the authorities that they may seem ridiculous at the time but they could help identify cultural differences and misunderstandings between them.
This brings to the fore the fact that the rules applying for the qualification needed to obtain a Visa can be quite different from country to country. As an example, compare the UK Border Agency directives for those who wish to apply for a visa for entry to the UK with those needed to apply for a UK citizen to get a visa for entry to the US .
This leaves us with the thought – that applying for a visa yourself is probably not the best thing to do. Depending on who you are, where you want to go and how long you wish to stay, it would be beneficial to obtain some expert advice first. Making light or joking about what may seem bizarre questions which appear to be too personal on application forms will not be viewed highly and may be of detriment to your whole application. If your first language is not English then questions may be misunderstood and completed adversely. Consequently it is advised here that there are immigration advisors who are qualified to help and additionally they will often have essential advice on other matters concerning your travel arrangements e.g. insurance policies, health precautions. Preparing properly for a visa application can be as important as training for an athlete to jump those hurdles!!
Written by James Scott on behalf of Ask Solicitors in Lancashire.