The British Government has decided to cut visa processing time for business, investor and work visa applicants in Hanoi, with a priority visa service which starts on October 1.

The fast-track processing service aims to return visa decisions within three to five working days compared to the standard 15-day service, said Lord David Puttman, the UK Prime Ministerial Trade Envoy to Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia at the launch ceremony on September 30.

He said the British Government is working to ensure it has the right services to encourage growth and support those who it wants to attract to the UK.

The new service and other recent enhancements to the UK visa operation in Vietnam, including the opening of a new visa application centre in Ho Chi Minh City this year, provide a more convenient and efficient service for customers and cater for the growing interest from Vietnamese in the UK as a destination for business, investment, work and study.

For the 12 months leading up to June 2013, the number of UK visa applications filed by Vietnamese amounted to some 13,700. Over the past two years, the demand for UK visas in Vietnam increased by 15 percent.

In addition to the new service, a number of UK visa policy changes will come into effect as of October 1 to give greater flexibility to business visitors and tourists and to UK businesses that employ international migrants.

The changes include allowing tourists and business visitors to undertake some study where it is not the main purpose of their visit, expanding the activities a business visitor can undertake in the UK, removing the English language requirement for intra-company transferees, making it easier for graduate entrepreneurs to switch into the skilled worker category, and allowing some students to stay in the UK after their studies to undertake a corporate internship.

" These changes will ensure that the UK continues to attract the very best global talent to work for British businesses, " said Puttman.

During his working visit to Vietnam, he also visited a photography exhibition themed "Vietnam-UK relations: From the past to the future" that kicked off on September 30 in Hanoi to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the two countries' bilateral diplomatic relations.

Co-organised by the British Embassy in Hanoi and the Vietnam News Agency, the exhibition, which will last until October 6, displays 100 photographs showcasing the co-operation between Vietnam and the UK.-VNA