Select Business Scheme UK


Launched on 22nd October 2014, the Select Business Schemes are offered by UKVI to members of China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) and the British Chamber of Commerce in China, as well as members of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and companies referred by DIT ( previously known as UKTI).

Membership of the scheme is free to CBBC/BCCC members, but they will need to sign up. The scheme applies to business visas only and will not cover Tourist or other visa types.


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Select Business Scheme (SBS)

Streamlines application process for Chinese staff of member companies with China presence

  • CBBC & BCCC corporate members with China offices (including those with presence only in China) can use this scheme to make it easier for their Chinese staff to visit the UK on business
  • Applicants using this scheme only need to submit two documents:

Visa application form
Employment letter (from the Chinese office/company/branch)

Select Business Scheme UK (SBS UK)

Streamlines application process for Chinese partners (i.e. non-employees) invited on business by UK companies

  • Enables CBBC/BCCC corporate members with a registered presence in the UK to make the visa application process easier for current or potential Chinese business partners who they are inviting to visit the UK
  • Applicants using this scheme only need to submit three documents:

Visa application form
Employment letter (from their employer in China)
Invitation letter (issued by the CBBC/BCCC member UK office)



  • Are the schemes active now?

Yes! SBS has been active for two years (superseded Business Fast Track scheme). SBS UK was launched on 22nd October during Lord Sassoon and the CBBC board’s China visit


  • Are CBBC/BCCC corporate members automatically enrolled or do we need to sign up?

You need to sign up by sending the application form for the scheme(s) that you are interested in to the following email address:

(N.B. this one address is the contact for both schemes)


  • What do we need to supply when we sign up?

See the application forms for each scheme, but note the points below:

  • SBS requires full list of company names, addresses and contacts for each office/branch/subsidiary whose employees will apply under the scheme
  • Both schemes require one or more official signatory. We recommend that you register up to 4-5 signatories (depending on size of company), ideally at director level or above.
  • You must submit a sample letter on company headed paper for each scheme and future employment/invitation letters should follow the format of those sample letters. See below for a guide to the contents of these letters.


  • How much does membership cost? Is there a fee for each application?

Membership of both schemes is free to CBBC/BCCC corporate members. There is no additional fee for applications using either scheme.


  • Is there a limit to how many applications can be made using the schemes in a year?



  • What type of visas can be applied for under the scheme?

Both schemes are for business visas only. Tourist or other visa types are not covered, and using the SBS/SBS UK schemes to obtain business visas for non-business purposes would be regarded as a serious breach of trust by both CBBC/BCCC and UKVI and could result in legal and other sanctions.


  • What length of visas can be applied for under the scheme?

The standard business visitor visa is valid for six months, and allows for multiple entries during that period. Longer term validity is available for one, two, five and ten year periods. Regardless of the length of visa validity, any individual stay in the UK cannot exceed six months. Both schemes will cover applications for all visa lengths, but there must be proof that there is a business reason for applying for an extended visa length. If your employee/invitee is applying for a long-term visa they may need to provide supporting evidence (e.g. their contract or information about an extended project they are working on)


  • Will the schemes speed up the visa processing time?

No. The benefit of both schemes is in reducing the amount of time taken to prepare the visa application. There is no preferential treatment given once the application has been submitted. The standard business visitor visa target processing time is 15 days. However both schemes can be used in conjunction with accelerated routes (see below)


  • Can the schemes be combined with other accelerated routes/premium services?

Yes. Priority, Super Priority and VIP On-Demand Mobile are all paid services that can be combined with SBS or SBS UK applications. However Super Priority and VIP Mobile services are currently only available in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.


  • Are there any restrictions on who can be invited under the schemes?

SBS is  available to Chinese  and third country employees of member companies. For third country applicants, UKVI would expect to see their valid Chinese visa.

SBS UK is available to anyone visiting the UK for business purposes and who has significant business interaction with the inviting UK company during that time. Please see for permitted activities. Both schemes are only open to those applying with a private passport. Official and public passport holders apply using a different process which is controlled by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


  • What needs to be included in the Employment Letter for SBS applications?
    • The letter should be on official headed paper and follow the sample letter submitted when joining the scheme
    • Company’s SBS membership number
    • Full company name and address in China
    • Full name and date of birth of the employee applying for visa
    • Details of the employee’s position: job title, responsibilities, start date and salary
    • Full details of planned trip, including how it is being funded.


  • What needs to be included in the Invitation Letter for SBS UK applications?
    • The letter should be on official headed paper and follow the sample letter submitted when joining the scheme
    • Company’s SBS UK membership number
    • Full company name and address in UK
    • Full name and date of birth of the individual being invited
    • Details of invitee’s company and job title
    • Details of your relationship with invitee’s company (length of cooperation and specific projects relevant to this trip)
    • Full details of planned trip (dates, overview itinerary, funding and purpose)
    • A separate letter should be produced for each individual invited
    • For more guidance on what content should be included - please click here


  • Could more documentation still be asked for?

Yes. UKVI reserve the right to ask for further evidence under both schemes. This is more likely to be required for long-term applications. UKVI requires to be satisfied that all applicants can afford their stay, have a justified reason for their visit, and a reason to return to their home country.


  • Is the visa guaranteed under this scheme?

No. UKVI reserve the right to decide all visa applications on a case-by-case basis.


  • Are any guarantees involved on the part of the CBBC/BCCC member company?

Please see the Terms & Conditions in the accompanying UKVI documents. Both schemes operate on the basis of trust, and the right to use the schemes may be withdrawn if UKVI has reason to believe that the schemes have been misused intentionally or otherwise.


  • How will our CBBC/BCCC membership be verified? Do we need to prove it?

UKVI will have a contact person within CBBC/BCCC for this function covering both schemes. When you apply you indicate your membership of CBBC/BCCC. Once UKVI has verified this, you will only need to use your membership number on the employment letter for each SBS application, and on the invitation letter for each SBS UK application


  • If our company only has a China presence, can we still use the SBS UK scheme to invite Chinese partners?

No. The SBS UK scheme is restricted to companies with a registered UK presence (the country in which the company is officially headquartered is not relevant)


  • What usual obligations do the schemes exempt applicants from?

UKVI does not publish full lists of required documents. However business visa applicants would consider submitting bank records and the household registration book (Hukou). These documents can be difficult or time-consuming for applicants to source, and they are not required under the SBS and SBS UK schemes, representing a major deliverable advantage for CBBC/BCCC member companies and their partners.


  • What other support is available under the scheme?

There will be pre-application support available by email (free) and phone (paid for). Once an application has been submitted, these contacts should only be used if the application has exceeded the standard processing time.


Within the UK:

Outside the UK: