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UK Visa Issued in China
This page is for ordinary Chinese Nationals who wish to travel to UK or other Western Countries
Canada, Australia, and official group tours (Travel Agents) to USA are the easiest visa's for Chinese Nationals to obtain. European visa's are also fairly straight forward. The worst are visa's to UK, which we will concentrate upon here...
This is how it really is:

If you are a Chinese Citizen, and either very rich or very important, you will easily obtain a UK visa. If you are not, your visa application will almost certainly be turned-down

Very Rich
Means just that - if you are Chinese and can show proof you have a lot of money, you will get a UK visa.

Define 'Very Rich'
Excluding Millionaires, very rich is actually a Means Test of how much tax you pay. You will be asked to provide at least 6 months Bank records - but what you should actually show are your last 2-years

For easy reckoning, the tax paid thresholds are currently (2008) approximately:
A. Chinese Citizen Y10, 000 (Most Chinese do not even earn this amount in a year)
B. British Sponsor about £10, 000 tax paid (Many Brit's do not even earn this either)

Normally meeting one of the above criteria is enough, but not always. Sometimes people will need to meet or exceed both

C. UK Small Businessmen
You are very likely to be affected by this when acting as a Sponsor

You should also be aware that the special start-up business taxes you spend hours and a lot of money with your accountants to legally ensure your first years of business do not cripple your cashflow with unfair tax burdens - act against you when trying to take your Chinese girlfriend to UK. If you understand what I am alluding too, then you will understand that having a zero or minus profit margin acts against you when trying to show how much tax you and your small company pay - and does not reflect how much money you actually have at your personal disposal. Catch 22 I am afraid!

D. Students
This category also includes Chinese students - whose parents pay an extremely large amount of money for Degree and Masters level education to UK Universities. These applications are usually granted because Education does have its own specific and favoured criteria (UK Universities want your money).

However, if you are paying for an educational course for your girlfriend to study in UK, then you do need to be a little wily about it all - especially if she is older (Over 25) and does not have a checkable work and tax record in China. Our friends at Excel Education can help advise you with the specific facts and your personal best options

There are related areas for Medicine, Summer Camps, Short Courses (Usually with English Language as core), and Employability. For instance, Cheltenham & Gloucester University offers roll-on roll-off English language courses, which normally include IELTS exam. These are divided into many levels, but are basically 3-months duration, running consecutively for all 12 months of each year. Total charges for 12 weeks study, tuition, food and accommodation, and IELTS exam - is currently around £2, 800. Contact our friends at Excel Education for further information about this and similar schemes

Very Important People - VIP's

For most practical purposes, we are basically talking about Business visa's here ie. you are employed in the International or Export office of a Chinese Company. The Boss of a Chinese Company is visiting UK for matters related to Exports or Import will easily get a visa to UK. If your Chinese Company is large enough - then both the Boss and the whole team should have little difficulty getting UK visa's - given letters of invitation, genuine checkable reasons + a large bankroll, etc

It is difficult for us to generalise, but others included in this category (And outside of Global Business Corporations, Governmental or Diplomatic services) can include: Cultural visits by performing artists, Official Group Tours, Official Exchange visits, those with immediate family in UK (Restrictions apply), and those working on approved projects for the disadvantaged (Such as The DreamScheme)

Improve Your Chances
Before applying for a UK visa, we strongly suggest you do all of the following:

1. Visit Hong Kong and / or Macao. We suggest you go to each SAR at least once.
• Group tours are easy for nearly all Chinese, but try to do this independently with just a friend for support.

2. Visit another 'friendly' foreign country. This refers to the 14 nearby countries given 'special status' (In theory) by Beijing. These countries include: Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines.
• Again, group tours are fairly easy to obtain, and there are no issues.
• To help your visa cause for UK, then you do need to do this independently also.
Note: Whilst in theory a visa is not necessary for say, Thailand - we know of a Chinese wife not being allowed on the aeroplane whilst her foreign husband was! See any travel agent and arrange your visa in advance, just to be sure. They will do this for you and the cost is minimal (Y600 or so).

3. To further improve your chances, you could also visit a country that is not on Beijing's special list.
• Taiwan is a very special case, and going there may not increase your chances of obtaining a UK visa.

Having completed at least steps 1 and 2 above as an independent traveller, your chances of obtaining a British visa are greatly enhanced. However, you will still need to prove you have the financial status and support in UK.

However, you have proved:
A. To the Chinese government that you will return to China, as they are worried you will not return.
B. To the British government that you will leave, as they are most concerned you will stay illegally in UK.

Other Possibilities
Here we delve very lightly into some gray areas and look at some of what is, and what is not possible...

Au Pair
You will not be allowed to bring  a Chinese person to UK as an official Au Pair. Today this scheme appears to be highly politically selective and pro-eastern european - see Teaching below

Teaching Chinese
This area is well worth examining in some detail, and does not apply to state qualified teachers who already have a Bachelor or higher qualification - they can qualify to go to UK under the 'Very Important' category above

However, the theory is a small variation on the Au Pair criteria - where you Sponsor and employ a Chinese National to teach your children Mandarin (or Cantonese). You will need to pay for their return flights in advance, pay all their medical expenses, give them their own room in your house, provide all essentials including clothes and food etc. They should have an IELTS Certificate to at least IELTS 6.0 (International examination of how good their English language skills are, measured globally). You can do this as a couple with kids in UK. It is very difficult, and it is also possible - especially if you can support it with family business reasons in China, or your children's planned education and subsequent careers.

Work in UK
There are a few options here, but again the wealthy have a monopoly on things like Employability, Gap Years, and Work Experience.

However, your Chinese friend whom just happens to own a Chinese business in UK, restaurant or take-way perhaps, may just be able to help you. Normally Chinese only do this for 'Family' - so only do this if you know them socially as friends. Given the right specific reasons (Secret recipe you want to serve in UK, excellent Cantonese Pancake Pastry Chef, etc - and/or a wad of cash) - this is viable for a 6-month visa. It may also cost you a bomb to unofficially sponsor, but it can work very well

Please read between the lines here, as the visa issued will normally be a common Tourist visa = they will be visiting 'Family; and they will not be allowed to work for taxable remuneration whilst in UK. Later when they are in UK, this can be changed to a Work Permit (Very difficult, but it does happen). The Sponsor will change to being the Chinese Boss in UK, and you will be expected to pay him, a 'consideration' on top of any fees incurred. This Sponsor normally falls into the 'very rich' category above = excellent UK tax payments record (For 5-years minimum I believe?)

If you do not fall within any category above, then getting a UK visa is virtually impossible for ordinary Chinese people. This is the unofficial policy of the UK Government, as stated to us personally on Tuesday, 23rd September 2008,as echoed by Chinese Government peers

However, the Consulate will not tell you this until after the visa application has been turned down, and only then under extreme pressure. Therefore ordinary Chinese citizens seeking a common Tourist visa will be refused for 99.9% of applications - regardless of your supporting criteria!

Other Information
What very few people are aware of, is that in China, The British Government have contracted out visa services to a quasi intergovernmental WOFE run in conjunction with Beijing. Therefore you are led to believe your visa application to go to UK is being dealt with directly by UK Government, when in fact they are using Third Parties.

UK actually only has: one Embassy in Beijing, and two supporting Consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou (Excluding Hong Kong and Macao, which have different purposes and functionality). That is all. Any other buildings and staff related to them are in fact operated by private sector 'Service Providers'.

Therefore you will find it extremely difficult to sponsor a visa application when made in China - simply because the British Consulate normally leaves matters in the hands of these 'private state enterprises'.

Tip 1
The system when Applying and Sponsoring in China is largely geared to Tax-paid Means Testing only. If these conditions are not met, the visa is automatically refused. By applying in China, but Sponsoring physically in UK, you may improve your chances - especially if you can interpret the Diplomatic gobbledygook and get a Supporting Interview arranged. This does work for Nepalese Citizens, and we are currently testing the theory re Chinese.

Tip 2
Stating the Chinese person is your boy or girlfriend is not a valid reason for issue of a British visa - it is viewed as a negative reason, and will probably work against you! Be honestly creative - ie, do not lie, but chose the right Diplomatic reasons for the visit

Tip 3
Ensure the Chinese person returns to China as planned, and before the expiry of the visa. For a First visit to UK, we do not suggest you try to extend it (Unless there are extenuating circumstances?)

These notes below are primarily intended for British men who want to take their Chinese girlfriends to UK

Tourist Visa:
The visa process has two elements:
1. Permission to leave China = irrefutable evidence you will return to China
2. Permission to enter UK = you can prove that you will leave UK (and whilst there you will spend thousands of £ Sterling, whilst also paying any health bills, food and accommodations charges, etc)

These are normally conducted as one seamless process. As well as filling in application forms etc, you will need to have a letter of invitation, plus flight and hotel reservations, Educational course booked, or similar, and declare your last 6-months original Bank statements. If you are married, then your husband needs to also declare his financial status. If you are not married but working, you may be asked for other things also + you need to earn of lot of money! If you are single and not working, your visa will be automatically denied - - irrespective of any UK sponsorship!

Upon application you will be told to expect an answer in about 10-days, and to prepare for an interview. The process currently takes a minimum of 3-weeks, and can actually take many months. Chinese Nationals biometrics are checked in UK (Criminal records etc); before your portfolio is returned to the British Consulate in China for decision and refusal. We do not know of anyone even being offered an interview

Sure - it's pretty bad!

If your destination country is not too important, we recommend you try any other Western Country before trying UK. The Western Embassies also talk to each other about you btw (By the way). Therefore getting an easier visa like a Tourist visa to Australia or Canada, may miraculously ease your passage to UK or USA - given you actually went to the country, and returned to China as required

One thing that does complicate matters is that normal everyday China is largely a cash-based society - therefore proving where money comes from, and goes to, can be quite difficult. This can either be a blessing or a burden, depending upon your point of view?

Outside The Box

Chinese Company
There are other ways to do this, but they are all complicated, require money one way or another, and you are always left at the discretion of both the UK and Chinese Governments regardless.

For instance, smaller business(wo)men should consider setting up a WOFE company or Representative Office in China. It will give specified foreigners some type of Chinese semi-residency, plus allow them to employ their boy/girlfriend within the Chinese company - thus easing UK visa problems by diverting the visa type to business rather than tourist class

This remains a tricky one - so all we will state here is that after being married to a Chinese National for a minimum of 3-years, authorities will usually look favourably upon the visa application. Evidence does suggest this is normally a lot shorter period, but it is all down to your personal circumstances and luck. Chinese spouse is normally easiest, followed by immediate family (Restrictions and time criteria apply)

Prior Refusal
You really do need to 'get your head around' what these diplomats actually said to you to progress. They speak a specific form of 'legalese' which normal people simply do not understand. They do use a lot of oblique language = yes means 'no', no means 'yes', a sigh can indicate what you should or should not do next time. Therefore you need to fully understand from their point of view, why your girlfriends visa was refused, and carefully recount exactly what they said.

Therefore: If your girlfriends UK visa is refused, and you re-apply using exactly the same format, the new application will also be refused. That simple - and yes, they do check and remember. However, if you interpret their gobbledygook correctly, and change the application slightly, you may be successful next time. It is quite curious, as we have witnessed personally - especially with UK visa's concerning Nepali Citizens

For an ordinary Chinese girl or boy to get a UK visa is extremely difficult - and generally considered nigh-on impossible. However, given determination, a little thought and planning + either luck, money, or friends in the right places; it can usually be accomplished on most occasions. Expect your first application to be refused, then work on getting it right next time. The problem is usually in UK btw, not in China
This information specifically includes personal experiences of close Western and Chinese friends - and is also as supplied by the British Consulate in Guangzhou, China; and the Chinese Embassy in UK, as dated 23rd September 2008, and/or other reliable sources.

Please check this information yourself as it may alter without notice, and whilst we try our best to ensure it is correct, please do not hold us responsible for any errors - this is intended as a simple and general guide only
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