China / Government

British-Irish visa plan will benefit Chinese, Indians

By Xinhua in London and Dublin (China Daily) Updated: 2014-10-08 07:41

Britain and Ireland inked a memorandum of understanding on visa cooperation on Monday to allow Chinese and Indian visitors to travel to the two island nations on a single visa.

The landmark visa deal will help Britain and Ireland share data and exchange information to inform and determine immigration decisions, and it will allow visitors from India and China to travel more easily between the two countries, the British Home Office said in a statement.

"This agreement will make it easier and more attractive for travelers to visit both Ireland and the UK, while at the same time strengthening Common Travel Area borders," British Home Secretary Theresa May said.

The British-Irish visa program will begin in China by the end of October and in India soon afterward, the Home Office said.

China and India are both key markets for British and Irish tourism, and more than 10,000 visitors are expected to use the program.

Frances Fitzgerald, the Irish minister for justice and equality, said: "The British-Irish Visa Scheme, which we expect will provide a major boost to tourism for both countries, is a very practical example of the transformation in British-Irish relations."

The plan "will benefit the Northern Irish economy in particular, by allowing Chinese and Indian visitors to the Republic of Ireland the opportunity to visit Northern Ireland without having to obtain a separate UK visa", she said.

The visa plan is part of a British-Irish program aimed at strengthening both countries' borders.

Other projects include closer cooperation on visa policies and processes, facilitating greater pre-entry and entry checks, and sharing watchlist information and passenger data.

Fitzgerald described it as an initiative of "unprecedented" cooperation between the two countries.

The visa plan is "something that but a few years ago would have seemed an impossibility", she added.

Fitzgerald also said the plan is a historic development in the operation of the Common Travel Area, "which for almost the past 100 years has been of immense political, social and economic importance to both countries".

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