International business leaders will be granted exclusive access to a new VIP visa system, launched by the Home Office to make it quicker and easier for them to organise entry to the UK.
Announced as the “Great” club, it will be invitation-only and is designed to benefit around 100 of the wealthiest tycoons with the strongest links to Britain.
They will receive “bespoke” support from the UK Visas and Immigration agency, including a dedicated account manager whose job it is to ensure their passage through the system is “swift and smooth”.
The Home Office will run the scheme initially as a 12-month pilot, beginning in the new year.
Mrs May said: “I created UK Visas and Immigration in March to provide a focus on delivering excellent customer service. These changes will allow us to maintain a world class, competitive visa system that can innovate in order to serve the ever-changing needs of business and ensure Britain succeeds in the global race.
“We will continue to listen and respond to the needs of high-value and high-priority businesses so that we can provide them with a service that supports economic growth, while at the same time maintains the security of our borders.”
The Home Office has also announced a number of other schemes to encourage business visitors to come to the UK, including expanding the priority visa service from 67 countries to over 90 countries by spring 2014.
A same-day visa service, already in operation in India and soon to be available in China, will be made set up in other key locations by the end of next year.
In India a mobile visa service allowing VIPs to have their biometric data and photo taken at their place of work will be introduced, along with a pilot scheme allowing applicants to retain their passport while their application is considered.