India outsources the processing of visa applications

India outsources the processing of visa applications

All visitors to India, other than citizens of Nepal and Bhutan, must have a visa. Your visa must be obtained before traveling to India as there is no way it will be issued to you on arrival and there are no exceptions. The type of visa required to enter India depends on your country of origin and the reason for your visit.

The important change that came into effect recently is that the High Commission of India has started outsourcing the Indian visa application process to private processing agencies. It states that this outsourcing was introduced in an effort to streamline the process and make it more efficient. It also now allows people to pay for visas online with a credit card.

VFS Global, part of the Zurich-based Kuoni Travel Group, has been awarded contracts to provide outsourcing services to the Indian Embassy in Thailand, China, France, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the Indian High Commissions in Sri Lanka, Australia and the United Kingdom. Travisa Outsourcing is the company contracted to issue visas in the United States.

The authority of VFS Global and Travisa Outsourcing extends only to the documentation and selection process. Issuance of visas is at the sole discretion of the High Commission of India.

In countries where this service has been introduced, you can no longer obtain a visa directly from the High Commissioner or Embassy (except for diplomatic or official passports), you must use the designated agency.

The downside of this outsourcing for the client is that service charges are introduced for all visa applications. As an example, the tourist visa fee for British travelers visiting India is still £30, but is subject to a service charge of £8 when applying in person or online. If applying by post then the additional charges are £15.40 made up of the service charge plus the charge for returning your passport.

In addition to this, VFS Global has introduced a premium rate telephone line for all visa enquiries.

The most convenient and time efficient way to apply is to fill the Indian visa application form online. You can also pay the fee by credit card online if you wish. Print the completed form, then make an appointment to submit your application, passport and required documents to the Visa Center or send them by post. Applications should be submitted to the center in London, Birmingham or Edinburgh depending on your jurisdiction. This can be determined from a list of locations on the website. Alternatively, you can go to the centre, wait in line and submit your application. Expect a long wait. Note that you will need to visit the center again to pick up your passport when the application is completed or arrange for it to be delivered by post. You will need to provide or pay for a special shipping envelope if you choose to have it mailed to you.

Applications submitted in person should be processed within 3 to 4 days. Applications by mail will take at least 15 days.

The visa application can be made in person or by post. Travisa recommends applying by mail to avoid waiting and for greater convenience.

Same-day visa applications must be submitted in person at the Outsourcing Office between 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM. The time to receive same-day applications is usually between 17:30 and 18:00. Applications received after 11:00 a.m. will have the visa issued the next working day. Travisa states that in any case it cannot guarantee that the visa will be issued on the same day. Non-US citizens and US citizens requesting a reference can expect a processing time of between 4 and 6 business days. Mailed applications should take approximately 5 business days to process from the date they are received by the processing department.

Visa processing centers for India are located in Washington DC. New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Houston. Which center you file your application with depends on where in the United States you live, also known as the jurisdiction. Details of which jurisdiction you are listed in can be found on the website.

Changes to the Indian Visa Application Process

US applications through Travisa Outsourcing

UK applications via VFS Global

What are the consequences for the customer?

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