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Royal Academy welcomes Ai Weiwei visa decision

Published 31 July 2015

The artist has now been granted a full six-month UK visa by the Home Office.

  • The BBC reports that UK home secretary Theresa May has ordered officials to issue Ai Weiwei a full six-month visa, reversing an earlier decision to limit his UK visa to a 20-day visit in September.

    Charles Saumarez Smith, the RA’s Secretary and Chief Executive, says: “The Royal Academy of Arts very much welcomes news that the Home Office has now decided to grant Ai Weiwei the normal six-month business visa he originally applied for. We look forward to welcoming him at the Royal Academy for the opening of his major exhibition in September.”

    Last week, Ai Weiwei received his passport, which had been held by the Chinese authorities since he was secretly detained in 2011 over a contested tax bill. Following this, the artist announced his intention to travel to his landmark show at the Royal Academy.

    On Thursday, he released a letter received from the UK government in an Instagram post to his 126,000 followers. The letter explained that his entry to the UK had been restricted because of a failure to declare a “criminal conviction.” Despite his secret detention in 2011, Ai Weiwei has never been charged or convicted of a crime in China.

    Ai Weiwei was appointed an Honorary Royal Academician in 2011. He is currently in Germany visiting his six-year-old son, who lives in Berlin.