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Kuwaitis always welcome in the UK: British ambassador ‘Apply for visa early’

It is a source of endless pride to me personally, and everyone in the UK, that so many of our Kuwaiti friends have such an affinity for our country. The figures are quite staggering. Last year we received almost 100,000 applications for UK visas in Kuwait. The numbers keep climbing, and are doing so again this year. As the Prime Minister David Cameron said in a speech in London last year, and as I always say to anyone who asks - this is absolutely fantastic for the UK. Kuwait is an old friend, and Kuwaitis are well-liked and familiar guests in the UK, whether traveling for tourism, work, study or healthcare. Most of course travel to London - parts of which I think should now be named ‘Little Kuwait’. But it’s great that more people I speak to are going further afield and seeing the other many and varied corners of our beautiful country.

Vibrant Northern cities like Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle - with their cutting edge culture, great shopping, sporting heritage and friendly welcomes. Magnificent countryside from the poetic beauty of the Lake District to the timeless vistas of rolling Chilterns to the Welsh castles and the jagged magnificence of the Scottish Highlands. As welcome as Kuwaiti visitors are to the UK, the meteoric rise in numbers does put real pressure on our hard-working Visa Section. And this becomes even more of a challenge during Ramadan, when working hours for staff at the Embassy and the Application Centre have to become shorter. To cope with the numbers we are working weekends, bringing in extra staff for the busy periods, and have opened a new, larger application centre. The UK’s legal requirement is to process a visa application with in fifteen working days - but thanks to the superhuman efforts of the staff in our Visa Section and at the Application Centre, Kuwaiti visa applicants will usually see their visa processed before then - even in busy times.

But what makes a real difference is people getting their applications in early. We are now operating an appointment system, and with the Application Centre so busy you may have to wait a few days for an appointment, and are unable to walk in and queue as you were under the old system. So if you are planning to travel any time in the next three months, book now to give yourself plenty of time! The process is very simple now that you fill in the form and pay online. It’s outlined in the step-by-step guide.
If you do need your visa urgently though, please use the Priority Services. This ensures your visa is processed first, and these are ready after two working days. Please note as well that you need to respect your appointment time - if you are too late you will need to rebook and start the process again.

We understand the importance of getting our visa processes right, and are continually working to improve them. Kuwaitis, for example are the only nationality in the world to benefit from using a shortened ‘visa lite’ application form. The Prime Minister also of course announced that Kuwait would be benefiting from the Electronic Visa Waiver system currently being staged in the UAE. Oman and Qatar. We don’t have a date when will be introduced so if you’re planning to travel this summer, please don’t wait for this to come in - start applying for your visa now, and make the process as easy and smooth as possible.

The truth is I don’t know what the number will reach this year. They keep going up - soon there may be more Kuwaitis in London in the summer than there are in Kuwait. But rest assured, that whatever pressure we’re under, we’ll work as hard as we can to get our visa processes and customer service as good as it can possibly be.

By Frank Baker
British Ambassador to Kuwait

By: Frank Baker

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