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New visa free scheme for Gulf

Following changes made to the visa system for visitors from China and India earlier this year, the government has now announced that it plans to change the visa system for visitors from some of the Gulf states.

With effect from 1st January 2014 Emirati, Omani and Qatari passport holders will be able to apply for an electronic visa waiver (EVW) for travel to the UK.

There will be no charge for the EVW and it is intended to be a quick and easy option compared with a visit visa application. Those eligible for the visa waiver will be able to travel to the UK after completing and printing a short online form, 48 hours before travel.

The change is being implemented following a surge in the number of tourists and visitors coming to the UK on visit visas in the last year. Between September 2012 and September 2013 there was an increase of 43% of visitors from the United Arab Emirates, 39% from Qatar and 32% from Oman.

Home Secretary Theresa May said:

“Britain is open for business and genuine visitors and tourists coming here to enjoy our world class attractions, study or do business are always welcome.”

The government plans to extend the application of the EVW to holders of Kuwaiti passports later in 2014.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0.

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