Home Secretary Theresa May has unveiled plans to dramatically overhaul Britain’s Visa system, making it easier for businesspeople and performing artists to enter the country.
The new arrangements, set to be introduced in April, will see 15 different categories of visa reduced to just four types.
Ministers are optimistic that the changes will make the application process more efficient and reduce the risk of visitors being caught up in bureaucracy.
Mrs May outlined the proposals in a meeting with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and was confident that the shake-up would bring big improvements.
“Fine-tuning the immigration system will help ensure we are demonstrating to the rest of the world that Britain remains open for business and that visitors are always welcome in the UK, whether they come for leisure or work,” she said.
“In a global marketplace we must make sure we stay ahead of our competitors as we work to carry on attracting the business and leisure travellers who will help our economy grow further still.”
The reforms come after persistent criticism from the business community, who believe that the current process for applications is just too cumbersome and makes it difficult to attract talent from overseas.
The arts world has experienced similar frustrations and has previously spoken of the obstacles when attempting to get international performers into the country.
More than 100 organisations, including business groups and tourism bodies, were consulted about the changes.