UK welcomes more Filipinos, enhances visa application services

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Friday, August 15, 2014


THE British Embassy is enhancing its visa application services in Manila and Cebu City, as the United Kingdom (UK) has welcomed record numbers of Filipino visitors to its shores.

The British Embassy said in a press release that in the 12 months to March 2014, over 49,000 UK visas were issued to Filipinos, with a 27 percent growth in tourists and business visitors driving the increase in numbers.

"It is great to see our people-to-people links growing in such a way that we are seeing more Filipinos travelling to the UK not just for sightseeing but also to do business," said British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad.

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He said they launched last year the "Great" campaign to showcase the UK as a destination that offers a diverse range of attractions from historical sites to modern architectural designs, world-class universities and inspiring commercial enterprises.

Also last year, the European Union lifted the ban on the Philippine Airlines, allowing the country's flag carrier to fly directly to London from Manila. In April 2014, another carrier, the Cebu Pacific, was allowed entry to Europe, giving Filipinos a wider range of flight options.

With the lifting of the ban, the Great campaign, and the availability of a visa application centers in the country, Ahmad said: "We want to welcome even more Filipino visitors in the coming 12 months."

He also dismissed the belief that it is difficult for Filipino travelers to get a UK visa, saying: "Over 90 percent of Filipinos who apply for a tourist or business visit visa are successful."

He encouraged applicants to apply early and to have all necessary documents on upon their appointments.

"Be clear about the purpose of your visit. There are additional services you may want to look into, such as the priority visa service and Prime Time service, for those who need a bit more flexibility," Ahmad said.

The Embassy said in a press release that among the enhancements to the UK visa services in the Philippines to improve the customer experience and make the journey to the UK an easier one are the following:

* A bigger and better visa application centre in Manila with more facilities and Great campaign branding to highlight the best that Britain has to offer.

* A new international visa enquiry centre: www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-outside-uk

* A premium lounge for a more personalized and streamlined service

* An optional priority visa service that returns visa decisions within three to five working days

* A Prime Time service for those who need the convenience of an out-of-hours appointment

* A Passport Passback service for those who may need to travel or apply for another visa whilst their UK one is being processed

* More streamlined visa guidance at www.gov.uk/visas-immigration

Additional details on the UK visa service and on how to apply for a UK visa are available at www.gov.uk/business-visitor-visa and www.gov.uk/visas-immigration. (PR/With Edwin Joseph Castañeda/Sunnex)

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