Chinese students face delays for UK visas
Published: Sep 06, 2021 08:53 PM
Chinese students board a charter flight from Southwest China's Chongqing to Manchester, UK in September 2020. Photo: cnsphoto

Two students walk through Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport on Monday to catch a chartered flight to Manchester in the UK. The plane will take 74 Chinese students to the UK. It is the first chartered domestic air route for students since the COVID-19 outbreak. Photo: VCG

Chinese students have been experiencing delays in getting UK visas, which was caused by an increasing volume of visa applications, said the British Embassy in Beijing. Meanwhile, insiders noted that Chinese students' perspectives have changed when it comes to applying for schools overseas after experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) in China and the team in the UK have been working nonstop to address the backlog caused by the high demand for student visas worldwide, with thousands more visas being issued in the past week, the British Embassy said in a notice on Friday.

Reports about Chinese students failing to get UK visas in time have sparked discussion and concern online.

"The delays were seen most noticeably in Beijing and Shanghai, which lasted for three weeks," said an agent surnamed Liang who provides application and visa services for Chinese students, adding that the situation has eased recently.

A student named Cyril told the Global Times that she had paid 8,821 yuan ($1,367) for expedited services that she was promised would get her a visa within 24 hours. She was told to collect her visa on August 30, however, she got it two days later. The visa center didn't give any explanation about "the delay." 

"I changed my flight to the UK from September 3 to 7 as I was not sure whether I could get my visa in time," Cyril said. 

Industry insiders pointed out that the volume of visa applications to the UK and the US have increased, especially for the new students, who were forced to study online in China since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020.

Liang noted that students from the Chinese mainland now tend to apply for overseas schools in Asia, with universities in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Singapore becoming more popular. 

Liang also explained that universities in Asia are closer to home, while the spread of the coronavirus has been contained relatively well compared with some Western countries, which have become advantages for Chinese students. 

She also emphasized that bilateral relationships between China and destination countries, and whether the countries or regions express hate or discrimination against Asians, affects students' decisions significantly. 

Universities in Australia are losing Chinese students significantly, for instance, due to the souring bilateral relationship, according to Liang, adding that the income of Australia's education sector may be significantly reduced if the situation continues worsening.