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UK visa system

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The UK has the most generous visa arrangements of any other Western developed country, according to research presented by LSE academic Dr Eric Neumayer to the Royal Geographic Society's annual conference this week.

The study, Unequal Access to Foreign Spaces: how states use visa restrictions to regulate mobility in a globalised world, shows how rich countries systematically use visa restrictions to keep out visitors from countries that are poor, undemocratic and experience violent political conflict, not least in order to prevent asylum seekers and other migrants from entering. At the same time, citizens from those richer countries are enjoying much better access to poorer countries.

Just two countries - Ireland and Switzerland - join the UK in being the only rich nations imposing the lowest number of restrictions on foreign visitors. The UK is the most generous of the three largely because it provides visa-free travel to most Commonwealth nations.

Dr Eric Neumayer|, reader in environment and development in LSE's Department of Geography and Environment, compared the joint visa arrangements between over 189 countries - over 36,000 visa deals between pairs of countries.

'For passport holders from rich countries the world is in easy reach and travel is often free of visa restrictions. But the promise of a borderless world is an empty one for the vast majority of people. For them, holding a passport is almost meaningless without a visa,' said Dr Neumayer.


Contact Dr Eric Neumayer, tel: 020 7955 7598, e.neumayer@lse.ac.uk|

Judith Higgin, LSE Press Office, tel: 020 7955 7060, email: pressoffice@lse.ac.uk|

Press cuttings

Boston Globe
Missing Zimbabwe athletes posing a mystery in Britain (2 Oct 05)
Comments from Eric Neumayer, LSE, on UK immigration and mention of report.

British generosity over visas 'makes it a target' for illegal immigrants (1 Sep)
The UK has the most generous visa arrangements of any western developed country, a situation that could aid illegal immigration, the conference heard. Eric Neumayer, LSE, said visas were the first line of defence against people entering a country illegally.

Daily Telegraph
Asians becoming more isolated as urban ghettoes grow (1 Sep)
Britain has the most generous visa arrangements of any western country, largely because of its Commonwealth, according to Eric Neumayer of LSE. Also mentioned in the Daily Mail, Press Association, and Metro London.