A new Indian visa centre has been set up in central London to boost capacity for processing applications alongside other measures, such as a doorstep service and document verification facility, to address high travel demand from the UK.
Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami inaugurated the new India Visa Application Centre (IVAC) at Marylebone on Tuesday to be operated by VFS Global, the outsourcing and technology services provider for governments and diplomatic missions.
A more streamlined process has also been introduced for group tourism or those travelling as a group, typically via a travel agency to the same destination using the same flights.
“The number of appointments we have been able to do has increased to about 40,000 per month thanks to our partners at VFS Global,” said Doraiswami on Twitter.
Tourists travelling to India from the UK now also have the option of a Visa at Your Doorstep (VAYD) service, at a cost of around GBP 180.
“Your papers can be collected at your home and will be brought to you after it is processed. To help with that, the service provider will also offer a special service to get your documents checked online for a small cost. We are also starting a form-filling service, which will be offered by our service provider VFS Global,” he said.
The new centre is the third India visa centre in London, with VFS Global operating a network of 10 IVACs across the UK – in Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, central London, Hounslow, Leicester and Manchester.
“The new VAC will increase the visa application capacity in London by providing additional appointment slots. This along with the recently opened visa centre in Glasgow will double the capacity of visas handled by VFS Global,” said Aditya Arora, COO of VFS Global.
“We are always looking at finding practical solutions to address customer experience challenges. As a responsible service provider that manages non-judgmental and administrative tasks related to visa applications for the governments we work with, we have taken measures along with the High Commissioner of India in London to help visa applicants with a seamless visa application experience,” he said.
The visa firm said it has been able to release more appointments as London and Birmingham started receiving applications on Saturdays and weekday afternoons.
Since March this year, VFS Global has also partnered with the High Commission of India in London and its Consulates around the UK to set up weekend consular camps across the UK.
The measures follow a massive surge in demand for Indian visas, with travellers from the UK reporting long waits and in some cases having to cancel trips due to a shortage of visa appointments. The Indian High Commission in London had pledged to work with its outsourcing partner towards doubling capacity in order to address the high visa demand.