Kahini Chakraborty – Mumbai
After registering a five per cent growth in the number of visas issued to Indians in 2013, UK recently renewed its partnership with VFS Global and has opened two visa application centres (VACs) in Mumbai, at Nariman Point and Bandra Kurla Complex. The UK partnership with VFS Global has now been extended until 2019. “With an aim to provide enhanced visa application experience, UK has also launched a mobile service centre in Goa and it intends to expand this service in some Tier II cities. It could also look at engaging with bigger corporate companies to provide seamless visa application process. We are also concentrating on opening more VACs,” said Thomas Greig, regional director to Central Asia, South Asia and Turkey, UK Visas and Immigration.
UK has also announced the extension of its ‘passport passback’ service, which allows applicants to retain their passports while visa processing. This service is in the pilot stage in Chennai and will be extended to the other centres in two months period across India. This is in particular to support business travellers needing to travel in the interim period, as well as others visiting the UK who also wish to apply for other visas. Presently there are 12 UK VACs across India – Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jalandhar, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi and Pune.
Sir James Bevan, the British High Commissioner to India said, “We look forward to getting more Indians to UK this year. In 2013, we issued a total of 4,00,741 visa applications for Indians worldwide, with a five per cent increase from 2012. Visitor visas increased by six per cent to 316,857, work visas increased by 10 per cent to 53,598; student visitor visa increased by seven per cent to 13,608 and dependent visa increased by 11 per cent to 479. In order to enhance the visa application service, we have been constantly trying to improve our services.”