U.K. Officials Instructed To Grant Ai Weiwei's Original U.K. Visa Request : The Two-Way The Home Office has apologized for denying the prominent Chinese dissident a six-month visa. He got only 20 days, because staff counted secret imprisonment as a criminal conviction.
NPR logo U.K. Officials Instructed To Grant Ai Weiwei's Original U.K. Visa Request

U.K. Officials Instructed To Grant Ai Weiwei's Original U.K. Visa Request

Ai Weiwei's original application for a six-month business visa was denied. Miguel Villagran/Getty Images hide caption

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Miguel Villagran/Getty Images

Ai Weiwei's original application for a six-month business visa was denied.

Miguel Villagran/Getty Images

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was originally granted only a 20-day visa to visit Britain, will now receive the six-month visa he applied for. A spokesperson for the U.K. Home Office explains that the head of the department, Theresa May, was not consulted over the staff's decision to allow only a shorter stay.

"She has reviewed the case and has now instructed Home Office officials to issue a full six-month visa," the spokesperson says. "We have written to Mr. Ai apologizing for the inconvenience caused."

We wrote Thursday on The Two-Way that Ai had been restricted to the 20-day visa because the office says he didn't list a criminal conviction on his application:

"In a post on his Instagram account, Ai says he has never been charged with or convicted of a crime. But, he continues, the British immigration office cites a criminal conviction in China that is 'a matter of public record,' which Ai says refers to his 'secret detention by the Chinese authorities in 2011.'

"As we reported, Ai was detained by authorities in 2011 as he was trying to fly to Hong Kong. Authorities took his passport, kept him in custody for 81 days and eventually fined him $2.4 million for tax evasion."

Ai has yet to post anything on his social media accounts about the change in his visa's status.