British Home Secretary Theresa May is relaxing visa restrictions on entry to the UK to encourage more business people to visit the country.
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The new rules, which come into force in April 2015, axe the current 15 visa categories and reduce them to just four entry papers.
May says this will make coming to Britain easier for business people and tourists and ease red-tape.
“Changing the visa system will make life easier for anyone wanting to visit the UK and shows that we are open to do business with the rest of the world,” May said.
Britain is also looking to boost the number of expats arriving from Commonwealth countries.
Campaigners are complaining visa restrictions mean the number of Commonwealth nationals coming to Britain has dropped in recent years as the focus has turned on opening borders to European Union immigrants.
MP Andrew Rosindell is calling on the government to help more Commonwealth nationals come to Britain – and has won support from the Australian and New Zealand governments.
Figures from think-tank Commonwealth Exchange reveal fewer Australians are coming to Britain as expats – with numbers dropping from 40,000 in 1999 to 26,000 in 2011. Visa issues are blamed for the decline.
Rosindell wants to see Commonwealth channels at border controls as well as one for Europeans and fast-tracked working and residence visa applications.
India and China are sitting down to thrash out easier visa and security checks on investors in India.
China argues investors face too many restrictions compared with some other countries, and this makes doing business harder.
Each application to open a business needed government approval and the process resulted in too much bureaucracy, claimed critics.
Also under discussion are relaxing tourist visas requirements for each country’s citizens at Indian and Chinese airports and borders.
“Economic reform in India focussed on stimulating the economy has thrown up this problem and we are looking at putting this right as soon as we can,” said an Indian government spokesman.
“These changes are making India an attractive option for other Asia Pacific investors.”
Malta has revised golden visa rules for wealthy expats after a disappointing take up.
The government wanted to lure wealthy investors to the Mediterranean island by offering a special residency deal in return for investment, but only 36 expats applied to sign up under the scheme.
The targets – rich Russians and Chinese – seemed to shun Malta to join similar schemes in Portugal and Spain.
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