Emiratis looking to enter the United Kingdom via the new electronic visa waiver (EVW) system have been experiencing problems, according to a report in Gulf News.
Launched at the start of this year, passport holders from UAE, Qatar and Oman can obtain their visa online, thereby eliminating the requirement to provide biometrics, attend a visa application centre or hand in passports prior to travel.
The document is issued immediately via a secure web site and can be obtained online from anywhere in the world for travel to the UK.
However, UK Embassy officials in the UAE have admitted that there has been a number of technical issues with the new system since its introduced in January 1.
“The Embassy is aware of some limited instances where travellers have been prevented from travel because they have not completed their EVW form correctly,” a UK Embassy spokesperson told Gulf News in an emailed statement.
The issue that has stopped Emiratis from travelling related to clerical errors of waiver application forms.
Gulf News reports that an Emirati was stopped from boarding a London-bound flight when the personal name details typed on the printed online waiver form did not precisely match the name on the passport. The name was off by one letter because the applicant missed the typo.
Nick Jariwalla, UK Visas and Immigration Regional Manager for the Middle East and Pakistan, told Gulf News that applicants using the scheme should ensure absolute accuracy.
He added that the EVW should not be viewed as a guaranteeing entry into the UK.
“An EVW does not guarantee entry to the UK. The EVW scheme means that an eligible passport-holder will be considered for entry clearance at the border in the same way as other non-visa nationals.
“All those travelling under the EVW scheme will be subject to the same checks as other non-visa nationals at the UK border,” he told Gulf News.
The EVW must be completed at least 48 hours before travelling to the UK. However, those coming to the UK to work or study will still need to apply for visas in the normal way.
The new electronic visa significantly shortens the process for Gulf nationals to obtain a UK visa and it is hoped encourage more visitors from the region who are already amongst the highest spending foreign tourists to come to Britain's high streets.
An estimated 50,000 Emiratis visit the UK every year.