The UK is welcoming unprecedented numbers of Thai visitors to its shores. Over 50,000 visitor visas were issued to tourists, family visitors and business travellers in 2011 – a 16% increase compared to the same period in 2010. And 94% of all UK visit visa applications made in Thailand last year were successful.
These high and growing numbers are a tribute to the thriving business and tourism links between Thailand and the UK which the British Government and this Embassy continue to work hard to foster.
British Ambassador to Thailand, Asif Ahmad said: “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.”
In response to the growing demand, 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.
A priority visa service is now available to eligible customers who are applying for a visit 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 3 working days.
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 centre on a Saturday. Prime Time appointments must be made online. Customers can also collect their documents between 9 a.m. and 12 noon on Saturdays at no charge.
For more information on the new premium and priority services visit the UK Border Agency in Thailand website.
Long term visit visas
If you are a frequent business or family visitor to the UK, you may wish to consider applying for a long term visit visa. Long term visit visas are available for 1, 2, 5 or 10 years. The long term visa has the same conditions and benefits as a regular 6 months visit visa, but is valid for a longer period of time for you to travel in and out of the UK. The key benefit is that you will only need to make one application and provide biometrics once for the entire duration of the visa. Details on the requirements and conditions are on the UK Border Agency website.
Olympics – apply for your visa early
The UK Border Agency has also started accepting visa applications from those planning on travelling to the UK during the Olympic period either as a spectator or a visitor. 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.
UK visa applications made in Thailand continue to be processed well within published customer service standards – to make decisions on 90 percent of all non-settlement visa applications within three weeks and 95% of settlement visas within twelve weeks.