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UK travel for GCC nationals to become easier from next year
November 13, 2013, 9:54 am
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First ever electronic visa waiver scheme to launch next year covering nationals from UAE, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait

The UK Home Office will launch a new visa waiver scheme early next year to make it cheaper and easier for business travellers and tourists to come to the UK from Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait.

The new Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) will be free of charge and is a quick and simple alternative to a visa application, according to a report by the Oman News Agency (ONA) on Tuesday.

Its introduction, the report said, is expected to increase the number of visits from Emiratis, Qataris, Omanis and Kuwaitis and reflects the strong ties between the UK and these countries.

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced the new scheme at the Lord Mayor of London's annual dinner on Monday evening.

The ONA report claimed that the new scheme is expected to be launch in Oman, Qatar and UAE in early 2014 and similar arrangements will be extended to Kuwaiti passport holders later on in the year.

Applicants will need to submit an EVW online at least 48 hours before they are due to travel and it will do away with the need to provide biometric information, attend an appointment at a visa application centre or hand in passports prior to travel.

The EVW will be available for visits of up to six months. However those coming to the UK to work or study will still need to apply for visas in the normal way.

"I am delighted that this new scheme, which we have been discussing with the Omani Foreign Ministry for some months, will make it so much easier for Omanis to travel to the United Kingdom,” Jamie Bowden, British ambassador to the Sultanate, told ONA.

“We look forward to welcoming even more visitors from the Sultanate in the country so many regard as their second home."

Further details on the scheme will be announced in due course, until then current visa rules will apply and visitors can check the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) website for the latest information on the UK's visa service.

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