The Home Office announced a number of changes to Immigration Rules and Policy.
As of 5 April 2005, China and the UK have approved a special Approved Destination Status (ADS) agreement, allowing Chinese visitors to apply for tourists visas to the UK. The granting of ADS will allow China's population of 1.3 billion to go through selected travel agents and benefit from simplified procedures so they can use ordinary passports and tourist visas for entry to the UK. Previously, Chinese visitors to this country need to be studying or have business to conduct in the UK.
Additional changes from 15 March 2005 affect marriage visitors and dependants of visiting forces personnel.
For those coming to visit the UK to get married, visa officers will now be able to question applicants about their marriage plans to satisfy themselves that the applicant(s) are coming to the UK to marry. Both visa and non-visa nationals will need to obtain entry clearance as a marriage visitor if they wish to come to the UK temporarily to marry. If they do not do so, a registrar will no longer accept notice of their marriage. When a person intends to settle in the UK after marriage, they should apply for a fiancé entry clearance in the normal manner.
This new provision in the Immigration Rules creates a legislative basis for marriage tourists. It allows entry clearance officers to refuse an entry clearance if they are not satisfied that arrangements have been made to give notice of marriage or to marry during the period of leave. It also provides for immigration officers to refuse leave to enter in such circumstances.
Dependants of armed forces personnel will now be able to apply for entry clearance for up to four years or for the period of the posting, whichever is shorter. Previously, entry clearance was granted for up to three years, or the period of the posting, whichever was shorter. They will be allowed to work during their time in the UK.