In response to the growing demand for visitor visas to the United Kingdom, the UK Border Agency and its commercial partner, VFS Global, have introduced two new premium visa services to provide customers with greater choice and flexibility, the UK Embassy in Bangkok announced today.
A priority visa service is now available to eligible people applying for a visitor visa. The service allows for customers, who meet certain criteria and pay an additional fee, to have their visa application placed at the front of the processing queue.
The new priority service costs 3,000 baht and is paid for at the time the application is submitted. The UK Border Agency aims to turn around priority applications within three working days, said the press release issued this morning.
A Prime Time appointment service has also been launched for the convenience of customers. Those who pay a fee can make an appointment to lodge their visa application and provide biometrics at the visa application center on a Saturday.
Prime Time appointments must be made online. Customers can also collect their documents between 9am and midday on Saturdays at no charge.
The upgrades in visa services comes as the UK welcomes an unprecedented numbers of Thai visitors. More than 50,000 visitor visas were issued to tourists, family visitors and business travellers in 2011 – a 16 per cent increase compared with the same period in 2010. And 94 per cent of all UK visitor visa applications filed in Thailand last year were successful, said the release.
These growing numbers are a tribute to the thriving business and tourism links between Thailand and the UK, which the British Government and British Embassy in Bangkok continue to work hard to foster.
“It is great to see that even more Thai people are choosing the UK as the ideal destination to travel and do business. The UK offers a wonderfully diverse range of attractions, from historical sites to modern architectural designs, and some of the best business event and conference facilities in the world.
“We hope to welcome even more visitors in 2012, the year of the London Olympics, where the world can see the best of what Britain has to offer,” said British Ambassador to Thailand Asif Ahmad.
The UK Border Agency also urged people wanting to travel to the UK for the Olympics to apply for visas early.
“As there is expected to be an increase in the number of applications in the lead up to the Olympics, those planning to travel at this time, whether you are a visitor or student, are encouraged to apply as soon as possible,” said the press release.
“UK visa applications made in Thailand continue to be processed well within published customer service standards – to make decisions on 90 per cent of all non-settlement visa applications within three weeks and 95 per cent of settlement visas within 12 weeks,” the statement noted.
Source: Phuket Gazette
UPDATE 21 June 2012:
This priority visa service is only open to applicants who have successfully received a UK visa in the 5 years prior to the application they are making. If a visa has been successfully received from Australia and New Zealand in the 5 years prior, then it should also be possible to make use of the priority visa service.