(MENAFN - Arab Times) As a new rule, all domestic workers accompanying their sponsors to the United Kingdom (UK) will have to be paid the UK and International Labor Organization approved hourly minimum wage of six British pounds and eight pence covering the period of their stay in the UK.
A contract to that effect duly signed by both sponsor and domestic worker has to be submitted as part of the visa application, said Sarah Kirkhope, Head of Visa Section at the British Embassy as she spoke Thursday at a press conference at the British Embassy Visa Application Center (VAC) highlighting the latest visa procedures put in place ahead of the summer holiday season.
The event was organized to throw light on the new visa rules as well as appeal to the large number of prospective travelers to the UK this summer to file their visa applications early to avoid the peak summertime rush. British Embassy Charge d'Affaires Paul Gaskell and Visa Section head, Sara Kirkhope handled the issues.
Expressing his incredible pleasure at the huge number of Kuwaitis and residents visiting the United Kingdom (UK) every year, Gaskell stated that issues pertaining to visas are of great interest to Kuwaiti nationals and residents. He added that in 2010, 58,000 people applied for visas to the UK in Kuwait and in 2011 the number rose to over 68,000, a rise of 20%.
The UK and Kuwait are old historic friends and we celebrated that last year with the 50/20 celebrations and the visits by the British prime minister and later the Prince of Wales. That friendship continues now to the future as shown by the good number of Kuwaiti friends we have visiting the UK every year.
"We know many of our Kuwaiti friends have second homes in the UK and like to visit regularly. Year 2012 is also a very special year for us and a good year to visit the UK because there are a number of key events happening; first of all the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II which is in early June and an even bigger sports festival, the Olympics which will be the third time London has hosted it. It is a massive event and is going to be a huge celebration in the UK. Hopefully, as many Kuwaiti fans as possible will be able to come and be part of the celebration", said Gaskell.
In terms of the way the British visa system works, the Embassy has a very large and efficient visa processing organization here in Kuwait. With about 68,000 visas per year, that's one of the largest visa issuing operations of any embassy in Kuwait and the huge numbers notwithstanding, the Visa Application Center try to be the most efficient. It has the quickest turnaround time. If you apply for a visa at the British Embassy, if it's straight forward, for a Kuwaiti citizen you get it back usually within a week. Other countries take longer.
For a Kuwaiti citizen to get a visa to the UK its fast and simple as long as applicants follow a few basic rules; rule number one, normally for a Kuwaiti citizen traveling to the UK for tourism, we can usually issue a visa in a maximum 5 working days.
However, in very busy periods, it can be longer. For example in the run up to the summer when the office gets very busy it could take up to 15 working days. In light of the anticipated rush for visas during the summer season, people who plan on going to the UK do not have to leave it to the last minute. Give yourself at least 3 weeks to apply because at the peak times the normal turnaround time cannot be guaranteed. When people applying for visa come to the visa center, everything is done to make it simple and easy as possible.
There is also priority visa service where you pay a bit more and your visa application will be put on top of the pile. The visa application center has also launched a premium lounge for people to come and feel a bit more comfortable in special surroundings.
In conclusion, the Charge d'Affaires reiterated his appeal to prospective visa applicants for this summer season to endeavor to file their applications early as a first rule. As a second rule, applicants should try to get their documentation right to go with the fully and correctly completed application form as applications filled incorrectly could cause problems and could even cause a visa refusal. The documents and photo format depends on the visa type being applied for.
Rule number three, consider getting a long-term visa, if you're a Kuwaiti national who travels regularly to the UK, getting a long term 5-year or 10-year visa will save you money. It's a lot cheaper than buying lots of 6-month visas. It also saves you lots of troubles, moving to and from the visa application center with all the biometrics involved.
New rules have now been introduced by the UK Border Agency for domestic workers accompanying Kuwaiti applicants. The UK does issue visas to domestic workers, and it's well known that many Kuwaiti families like to travel with domestic help to the UK. Many countries don't offer visas to domestic workers, but those visas are available for the UK. The rules though have changed.
Visas for Kuwaiti nationals usually take about a week at the maximum but for a domestic worker accompanying the family who is of other nationality; it could take up to 15 working days or longer. You don't want to be in a position where you have a visa and have to wait for about 3 weeks. You need to factor in all that when applying for a visa, especially when you have a domestic worker with you.
On the new visa rules now in place for domestic workers accompanying their sponsors to the UK, Sarah Kirkhope stated that for a domestic worker to be qualified to accompany a family to the UK, the said worker must have been employed by the family for at least 12 months; resident permit of worker must show family head as sponsor. All domestic worker visas are restricted to 6 months maximum.
Further to that, UK minimum wage of six British pounds and 8 pence an hour should be paid to the domestic worker who should be at least 21 years old, covering the period of stay in the UK, in compliance with both international and UK labor laws. A contract to that effect between the applicant and domestic worker accompanying the sponsor has to be signed and made available as part of the visa application.