Gulf nationals start making use of the UK's Electronic Visa Waiver Program

Picture: Cyclists race along the waterfront with the skyline of Doha.

The program is for Oman, Qatar and UAE nationals who must complete their EVW (electronic visa waiver) online at least 48 hours before departure and present a printed copy on departure and again on arrival in the UK.

January 1 saw the first travellers to visit the UK using the Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW). This allows visits to the UK for up to six months without a visa. So far, over 300 visa waiver applicants — including 170 Emirati, 107 Qatari and 102 Omani passport holders — have completed an EVW, with the number expected to increase during the coming months. UK border force officials have been working through the night at local airports to assist airlines and travellers using the scheme.

Matt Heath, regional director for UK Visas and Immigration, said: “We’ve already seen really good uptake of the EVW scheme, it is simple to complete, free of charge and quicker than applying for a visa. When completing an EVW it is essential that the travellers enter their full name, spelt exactly as it appears in their passport together with their date of birth and exact flight details.”

With an EVW there is no requirement to provide biometrics, attend a visa application centre or hand in passports prior to travel. The document is issued immediately via a secure web site and can be obtained online from anywhere in the world for travel to the UK. Dominic Jermey, British Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates said: “I’m delighted to see Emiratis start to use the Electronic Visa Waiver scheme. Introducing this scheme is a really important part of the drive by the British government to make relations between our two great nations ever closer — like all important relationships; it is our people who are at the heart of the long standing friendship between the UK and the UAE. This visa waiver offers a great alternative to a visa and can now make it easier for Emiratis to visit Britain. The UK looks forward to warmly welcoming more Emirati visitors for business and leisure.”

The EVW is only valid for a single entry to the UK on the date and time specified.