Kuwaitis intending to travel to the United Kingdom will need to apply at least 48 hours before travel to benefit from the internet visa waiver application system, due to be introduced in the first half of 2015, the Foreign Office said on Monday.
The waiver will allow a single entry to the UK of up to six months, and if more visits are intended then further applications should be made, Director of Middle East and North Africa at Britain's Foreign Office Edward Oakden said in a joint press conference with the Kuwait Foreign Ministry Director of Europe Affairs Walid Al-Khobaizi.
The e-application will not be made available for Kuwaitis intending to travel to the UK for healthcare, study, business purposes or long-term stays, and non-Kuwaiti travelers, and those will need to go through the regular method of application.
It has already been put in place in Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, and Oakden said that the delay, where Kuwait is concerned, is because "the computer program that underpins it has had some problems when we had introduced it (the system) in the three other countries.
"It relates to, in particular, how people put in their name and the spelling of names in Arabic and English, such that when people were using it for the first time 40percent of the applications were getting thrown out." And, as the number of Kuwaitis who travel to the UK is as great as those from the UAE, Qatar and Oman combined, it is taking longer as amendments are currently being made to the software.
On its website, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office clearly outlines the steps required to apply for the free-of-charge application.
A statement by former Ambassador to Kuwait Frank Baker reads, "there is no requirement to go to an application centre or submit biometrics. The online form has an account system which means you only have to submit personal information once (name, date of birth, passport number etc).
"You will also have to give travel details. You will then be sent a visa waiver which you need to print out and take to the airport. Each visa waiver is only valid for a single trip. But, you are able to have as many as you need simultaneously and can apply in advance.
"So if you went to Brussels for the day you could print out two separate visa waivers, one for when you arrive in the UK, the second for your return trip from Brussels. Getting a visa waiver is completely free." For his part, the Kuwaiti official said that a tour of the visa application centre was important to stand on "what was going on," adding that he was impressed with the facilitations made available at the office in Al-Tijaria Tower in downtown Kuwait City.
He also guided his praise at the newly-introduced VIP application system at the centre, which he said can get you a visa in a short time. On the forthcoming e-system, Al-Khobaizi said he had a sensed "a strong attempt" from British officials, "which we really appreciate", to make the matter possible in the soonest time possible.
He also said he was "very satisfied" with bilateral talks on the matter. Addressing diplomatic relations, he described these as "historic", describing the UK as the "guardian" of Kuwait since far back.
He also referred to the thousands of Kuwaitis who travel to the UK each year as students, tourists, businessmen or healthcare patients as facets of this relationship.
"This is due to the secure environment they experience when going there," he said, and these "elements make Britain a preferred destination for Kuwaitis."