UK officials predict major delays for immigration processing during Olympics
UK immigration officials are warning of possible delays this summer due to the London Olympics. Olympic VIPs will be given dedicated passport lanes at Heathrow Airport in order to fast-track UK visit visas for 25,000 athletes, coaches and officials. This reallocation of resources will likely mean delays for other travelers, according to the UK Border Agency.
Currently, queues at Terminal 4, Heathrow Airport for non-EU arrivals already reach two hours at peak times, according to the UK Daily Mail. In order to handle the influx of passengers, thousands of UK immigration staff will be transferred from their normal duties to deal with arrivals during the Olympics.
Olympics officials and athletes who have not registered their biometric data in advance will be required to have their fingerprints and photographs taken by border staff when they enter the country to be checked against immigration and security watch-lists.
"We have plans in place to make Games Family Members' arrivals at Heathrow as quick and simple as possible," a UK Border Agency spokesman said, "We expect most visa nationals will already have provided their biometric information prior to Games time and there will be dedicated Olympic lanes at Heathrow to speed up the process where we need to collect the biometric information of those who haven't."
The UK government predicts up to 80 percent of foreign Olympics visitors will go through the airport – including athletes, officials, sponsors, media and spectators. The day following the Olympic's closing ceremony – August 13 – is expected to be London Heathrow's busiest ever day.
The UK has begun processing Visitor visas for the 2012 London Olympics. We advise you to apply as soon as possible so that UK immigration officials have plenty of time to process your application. You will normally then be issued with a UK visitor visa with a start date that will cover you for the whole Olympic and Paralympic Games period. Once you receive your UK visitor visa, you can then travel to the UK for the Games from the beginning of 2012.
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