Image credit: @clry2.
That the UK’s immigration policy is something of a mess is undeniable. Desperate to look ‘tough on immigration’ (a futile goal, as Polly Toynbee points out) the coalition government introduced a cap on non-EU migrants, making things more difficult for those wishing to work or study in the UK. This xenophobic approach is reflected in the absurdly complicated visa process for tourists, particularly those from China, whose money the UK businesses desperately want.
At Quartz, David Yanofsky examines the hoops that prospective Chinese tourists (not immigrants) have to jump through just to visit the UK:
The UK’s visa procedures are very similar to those for getting a Schengen visa, which covers 26 European nations—an area that spans all the EU members (except the UK and Ireland), Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.
To get a Schengen visa, Chinese tourists must provide five documents (pdf) to the consular offices of the member nation they intend to visit first: a flight reservation, their hukou (a Chinese identity document), proof of accommodation, a travel itinerary, and proof of financial solvency.
Though China is viewed by many nations (the UK included) as the world’s top “superpower,” both the British and Schengen visa systems are substantially more burdensome to Chinese than to Americans, citizens of the world’s other choice for superpower. All a US traveler needs to get a visa in Europe is show a valid passport upon arrival.
The Economist accused the coalition government’s immigration polices (based on the Conservative party’s election manifesto) of “crippling business and the economy” by starving the UK of young overseas talent and wealthy foreign students. At the very least, David Cameron’s government should make it easier for tourists, particularly wealthy Chinese tourists, to visit the UK, and soon.