by Website Editor, 22 September 2012 (updated 9 August 2015)
A new China Visa Application Service Centre (CVASC) has opened in Edinburgh in response to the significant increase in applications for business and leisure travel to China. The new facility, in the city's West End business district, is initially expected to handle around 15,000 applications per year. However, this is anticipated to rise in the coming years, as business, cultural and education links between China and Scotland develop even further.
Speaking at the opening ceremony on 21 September, Mr Li Ruiyou, Consul-General of the People's Republic of China in Edinburgh, noted that his Consulate had been hard-pressed to cope with the "increasing workload of visa affairs and the shortage of office space". This has led to the new outsourcing arrangements, he explained, reflecting what happened at the London Embassy in 2008 and the Manchester Consulate-General in 2009. The outsourced system is in fact very similar to that operated by the British Embassy and Consulates in China for Chinese applicants for UK visas.
Potential travellers should now make their applications via the CVASC, rather than directly to the Consulate, as was the case previously. Applications can be in person and by post, with different procedures for each service. In addition, the visa application form can be filled in online. Full details are provided on the Centre's new website. To note August 2015 - the Visa Centre has a new schedule of fees, please see their notice here.
It must be stressed, however, that final decisions on visa approvals will still be made by diplomatic staff at the Chinese Consulate-General.
The CVASC will be managed by China Bridge UK Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bank of China. This company already manages the similar centres in London and Manchester, as well as many others worldwide. Mr Winston Fang, General Manager of the Bank of China in the UK, said "we are very proud to have been chosen as a partner by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs", adding "we look forward to providing a better service to local applicants". The new centre has six service positions and a large waiting area, and the influence of banking customer service systems is very apparent in its design.
Welcoming the new centre, Mrs Janice Dickson, Chairman of the SCA, said that she looked forward "to a close working relationship" with CVASC, adding, "I sincerely hope it will be the best and most efficient centre in the UK".
See also here for a report on the Consulate's website.