By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
04 April 2014
The United Kingdom has introduced new changes to the visa application process which will require potential travelers to pay application fees online by debit card.
A statement from the British Embassy said Zimbabweans can no longer go to the embassy to apply for a visa but will have to visit the www.Visa4UK.fco.gov.uk website to apply online for appointment times.
Most Zimbabweans have no access to debit cards and are likely to find the new process a deterrent. But the embassy said the ‘mandatory’ system would meet the UK government’s requirements and is ‘consistent with a wider global trend to online transactions and payments.’ The UK government also said the new system would help cut costs in the management of the visa regime and would also keep the fees affordable.
The embassy also introduced a priority visa to cater for business travelers. The special visa will be processed within five days at a cost of £100, as opposed to the normal visa which could take 15 working days.
Since 2000 many Zimbabweans have fled both repression and the economic decline to settle in the West. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans reside in the UK. In 2002 the UK was forced to introduce a visa for Zimbabweans as a way of controlling the number of people coming into the country.