Applying for a Chinese visa in Dubai will now become more convenient and less time-consuming thanks to the newly opened Chinese Visa Application Service Centre, officials said.
VFS Global opened the first Chinese Visa Application Service Centre in the Middle East on Tuesday together with the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Dubai to facilitate visa application services for UAE residents.
The centre, located in Wafi Mall, will process all types of visa applications to China for ordinary passports. Regular applications take four working days to process while express applications take three days. Residents no longer have to visit the consulate for their visa needs.
Consul-General Li Lingbing, Chen Xiongfeng, Deputy Director–General of the Department of Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of China, Zubin Karkaria, CEO of VFS Global Group, along with other senior officials from the consulate and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs inaugurated the centre.
“With this centre, we are offering more convenience to applicants. The processing time for the visa itself is the same. But right now in this centre, we have more counters and that will lessen the queuing time for applicants. More counters mean faster processing at the counters and more applicants can be accommodated in a day,” Lingbing told Gulf News.
The consulate handled 100,000 visa applications over the past two years. The new centre is projected to process up to 50,000 visa applications annually.
“We are looking at around 40,000 to 50,000 visa applicants per year but if you look at the tourism outflow between China and the UAE, I would say it is growing and there’s a huge potential not only for tourism but also for trade,” Karkaria told Gulf News.
Karkaria said the centre can accommodate more applicants because of its space and working hours compared to the previous setup at the consulate.
“The centre has longer working hours. There is more convenience as consulates tend to have smaller infrastructure. The turnaround time is faster because of the longer working hours. We have a three to four-minute turnaround so even if there are 500 applicants a day, we can manage,” he said.
In the past, some residents noted that applicants would queue up early in the morning at the consulate to apply for a visa since the consulate is open for visa applications only in the morning. The consulate processed 39,000 visas to China last year.
Comparing the number of tourist arrivals, there are more Chinese tourists travelling to the UAE compared to UAE residents flying to China.
The UAE is a favourite destination in the Gulf for Chinese tourists. Last year, the UAE government started giving Chinese tourists a visa-on-arrival status that saw a 60 per cent growth in overnight tourists to Dubai, attracting a total of 157,000 Chinese visitors for the first two months of 2017. This grew to 265,698 by the fifth month of 2017.
The visa exemption is not mutual for the two countries as of yet, but Emiratis have options when visiting China, Libing said.
“UAE citizens are not yet visa exempt but in some cities, Emiratis can stay for 72 hours without a visa,” Libing said.
The centre also offers the ‘China in Luxury’ experience that includes an all-inclusive, ultra-luxury travel arrangements reserved normally for royalty and world leaders. The bespoke packages allows high-net-worth individuals to have exclusive access to a range of hand-picked exotic properties across China such as the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, the Four Seasons Presidential Villa in Hangzhou, and many others.
BOX: Fast Facts: Chinese Visa Application Service Centre
Location: Wafi Mall, Level 3, Falcon, Phase 2
Timings: Sundays to Thursdays (except public holidays)
Submission of applications: 9am to 3pm
Collection: 9am to 4pm
Fees: (Total Fees per person: Visa Fee + Service Fees)
Singe Entry: Regular Dh350, Express Dh510
Double Entry: Regular Dh425, Express Dh585
Multiple Entries (6 months): Regular Dh500, Express Dh660
Multiple Entries (1 year): Regular Dh650, Express Dh810