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Normally, the UK does not participate in Schengen and does not honour Schengen visas; and there is no reciprocity between Belgium and the UK where tourist visas are concerned. As a probable result, and historically, there has been no commingling of operations in the application process.

If a Chinese national in China contemplates visiting the UK and Schengen (via Belgium) in a single visit, is there a possibility of combining their visa application? Or making their application in a single step? Is there a "one-stop-shop" available? If so, how would a Chinese national take advantage of it?

Note: Schengen requires Chinese nationals to have a visa prior to departure. The UK has a similar requirement. There is no opportunity for a Chinese national to receive "leave to enter" at the border in either country.

Note: Chinese nationals are the largest base of end-users in the UK visa regime, with slightly under a half-million visitor visas annually.

  • Doesn't your opening paragraph answer this question? I guess I'm confused about what else you're asking about. – Flimzy Jun 19 '15 at 16:38
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    Maybe your "one stop" could be to find an agent who will handle both applications on your behalf? – Nate Eldredge Jun 19 '15 at 17:36
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    @Flimzy: I think he's setting himself up for posting a description of a combined application mode for the "Approved Destination Status" scheme available for Chinese nationals under certain conditions. – Henning Makholm Jun 19 '15 at 17:50
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Earlier today, UKVI issued an announcement which is reproduced here in its entirety...

I am writing to update you on further improvements to the UK's visa service in China.

Today the UK and Belgian governments have announced a new pilot scheme that will streamline the visa application processes for Chinese nationals wanting to visit the UK, Belgium and the Schengen area as part of the same trip.

From July 1, the UK-Belgian Visitor Service will allow Chinese customers to submit their visa applications for both countries during a single visit to a UK visa application centre in Beijing, Guangzhou or Shanghai.

UK and Schengen visa policies have not changed. UK visa applications will be assessed independently of Belgian visa applications. But Chinese customers will benefit from the convenience of applying for two visas as part of a single process.

The new service is the latest in a series of initiatives to make it easier for tourists from around the world to visit the UK as well as the Schengen area. Last June, for example, we extended a pilot project which allows Chinese visa applicants using the UK online system to have their details uploaded automatically to the Schengen form to save time.

We believe the UK-Belgian Visitor Service will be popular with Chinese travellers and we understand many travel agents in China will introduce new tours to take full advantage of it.

China is the UK's largest visa market and the number of tourists and business travellers we welcome continues to grow. In the year ending March 2015, the UK issued 420,174 visas, a 9% increase on the previous year. 343,000 of these were visit visas, a 10% increase. This demonstrates that our clear focus on customer service is having a positive effect.

We offer an excellent visa service in China and have made a number of changes to create a quicker and easier process for customers, such as our existing priority and super-priority visa services and the expansion of our on-demand mobile visa service.

We are confident the UK-Belgian Visitor Service will bring huge benefits to the UK, Belgium and, most importantly, our Chinese customers. This scheme will create a one-stop shop for Chinese visitors to the UK and Europe, whether they are coming here for business or leisure. We will continue to make sure our visa services are world-class to ensure that our borders are protected and that Britain remains open for business.

Interpretation

This extraordinary pilot project is quite likely aimed at not losing market share to tourists planning to visit Schengen only. The first step in this pilot appears quite modest and involves the commercial partner only without commingling their decision-making operations. If the pilot is successful, this will enable (perhaps) the two governments to collaborate on a common infrastructure and further streamline the decision-making process; ideally a single visa (issued by the UK).

The Republic of Ireland is doing something similar in a different programme.


Note: another "new" aspect in this announcement is the "expansion of our on-demand mobile visa service". This is where an applicant can have a van come around to his residence (but more commonly his work place) to collect biometrics, go over the forms, and make the 'informal' decision if everything is in order.

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