The visa exemplar is a project to develop a
new way to apply to come to the UK from China. This year they are on track to do between
300,000 and 500,000 applications. We have feedback from our customer insight
teams that people in China think applying for a visa is very difficult. We were really
keen to start to understand why Chinese users supply enormous numbers of documents as evidence.
When we walked around the embassy offices they’re literally drowning in paper. We went to see the travel agents. Every time
they take on a new client, they send them a list of documents. They have no incentive to limit that list. For users who want certainty around what documents
to supply and how to negotiate the process of applying for an application, we’re not
providing it, but travel agents are, but it’s just a very long list. They do at least say
to their clients, “Send these in and you’ve got a pretty good chance of getting a visa.” So, that was what was fascinating to us as well,
to see a very clear reason for people using third parties to go through this process.
The other big reason that they use them is that they don’t speak English. The difference
with the beta service is it translates the entire service, users really appreciated that. We actually have some very clear pointers
from our trip that tell us which documents are being used in the decision-making process,
so our recommendation will be to limit the list of documents to those and be very clear to Chinese users that they don’t need to send us the rest of them.