The UK opened a new Visa Application Centre (VAC) in Kolkata. This new UK Visa Application Centre (VAC) is conveniently located offering upgraded services with state-of-the-art facilities.
The UK partnership with VFS Global has now been extended until 2019. Under the new contract, VFS Global and the UK Government will ensure that the VACs in a number of key markets are located as conveniently as possible for visa applicants. In particular in South Asia, the new contract also foresees major refurbishment of all VACs.
VFS Global will continue to be responsible for accepting applications for UK visas from applicants residing in Kolkata. All applications will be assessed by the British High Commission in New Delhi. The key feature of the new centre is its convenient location with easy access to public transport effectively connecting visa applicants from all parts of the city. A dedicated website provides information about the application process and the centre offers professional and responsive staff with local language capability.
The UK also announced that it would be extending its “Passport Passback” service to all locations in India. This service allows applicants to retain their passports while visa decisions are being made, in particular to support business travellers needing to travel in the interim period. It also helps those visiting the UK who also wish to apply for other visas.
Opening the new VAC in Kolkata, Mr Scott Furssedonn-Wood, British Deputy High Commissioner to Eastern India, said he was very pleased to inaugurate the new VAC as it marked a major step-up in service delivery to visa applicants from this part of the country.
Mr Furssedonn-Wood said applications for UK visas have been consistently growing and the UK, in turn, has focussed on ensuring that the very best visa services are provided to Indian applicants. Mentioning processing speed, convenience of application process and a fair price as some of the advantages the UK provides, he emphasised that the UK is open for business, visitors and students. He was confident that visa applicants would welcome the new service centre in Kolkata.
Operations Manager for North India, Nepal and Bhutan, Ronnie Pattison from UK Visas & Immigration said, ‘UK Visas and Immigration want to work with the best companies in the world so I am delighted that UKVI’s long standing relationship with VFS Global has been extended for another five years.
‘We have already worked with VFS Global to deliver a number of highly successful improvements to our service in India. Our plans for new Visa Application Centres along with the expansion of our Passport Passback Service mean that I am confident that our partnership will go from strength to strength.’
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Vishal Jairath, Regional Head-South Asia, VFS Global, said, ‘VFS Global is honoured to be associated with the UK, an esteemed client government for 10 years, and delighted to offer applicants and trade in Kolkata a new UK Visa Application Centre with state-of-the-art facilities. With an increasing number of visitors to the UK, we support the UK government in its initiative to introduce next generation outsourced visas with an enhanced service and comfortable and conveniently located Visa Application Centres.’
- The new contract, a part of the next generation outsourced visas project, help deliver improved customer services including increased access to premium and priority services such as priority visas, and to deliver efficiencies in the visa application process. It will deliver the next set of outsourcing contracts for the visa application process, including biometric enrolment, courier services and interviewing facilitation. It will offer the flexibility needed to support current and future service.
- From 1 April 2014, for information on the visa application process, customers will now be able to call a new international contact centre run by Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS) which will provide services in more than twenty languages.
- The new VAC in Kolkata is situated at 5th Floor, Rene Tower, Plot No. AA-I, Rajdanga Main Road, Kasba, Kolkata. It offers more convenience with attention to access for the disabled, dedicated website for easy access, visa information including visa types, applicable fees and application status, professional and responsive staff with local language capability dedicated to handle visa queries, premium lounge and doorstep delivery of passports.
- For more information on Opening Hours of operation please visit www.vfs-uk-in.com
Excerpts of the speech by Mr Scott Furssedonn-Wood, British Deputy High Commissioner to Eastern India, at the inauguration of the new UK Visa Application Centre in Kolkata
I am here today to open this brand new, state-of-the-art visa application centre in Kolkata that will provide applicants from Kolkata as well as the East and North East region a well-located modern service centre.
I am also here to tell you that the UK visa service in India is much better than you may have heard. In fact, the service we offer to Indians wanting to come to the UK is not just good. I believe that it’s the best visa service offered by any country in India.
- Success rate. Many Indians I meet think that getting a UK visa is hard, and that most who apply get refused. Wrong. On the contrary, nine out of ten Indians who apply for a UK visa get one. Many people think that we don’t issue very many visas. Wrong. We issue more visas to Indians than to any other nationality in the world: over 400,000 in 2013. Many people think we are issuing fewer visas than in the past. Wrong again: we issued 5% more visas to Indians in 2013 than in 2012 – more visas for visitors, whose numbers rose by about 10% last year, more visas for workers, and more visas for dependents. If you are a legitimate traveller, you will get your visa.
- Speed. Many people tell me it takes weeks to get a UK visa. Wrong. It takes on average only eight working days from the time an Indian applicant applies for a UK visa until we issue it. We have faster services available for those in a rush. And if you really need it fast, we have introduced a new same-day visa service. India is the first country in the world where we have offered this.
- Convenience. We make it easy to get your visa. We have more places in India where you can apply than any of our competitors: twelve Visa Application Centres – Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jalandhar, Kochi, Mumbai (North), Mumbai (South), New Delhi, and Pune. We have launched a new mobile visa service for those who are not near one of those twelve centres. You can complete most of the process online: making your application, paying, booking an appointment at the Visa Application Centre; and we will post you your passport and visa once it’s done. We offer a ten year multiple entry visa for frequent travellers, so they don’t have to keep reapplying.
- Price. Another myth I hear frequently is that we overcharge for our visas. Wrong: a UK visa is very competitively priced. A UK visit visa costs £80. A US visit visa costs around £100. A visa for France or Germany does cost a bit less than for the UK, about £60. But for that price you only get a single entry visa valid for three months. A UK visit visa is multiple entry and valid for six months.
- Constant improvement. We think we offer a good service, but we are constantly seeking to improve it. Let me give you two recent examples. First, our new passport passback service. This means that you can have your passport back while we process your visa application if you want to apply for another visa at the same time – for example for people who are visiting the UK and another European country. We have been piloting this new service in Chennai. I am delighted to announce that we will be extending it shortly to the whole of India. Second example: where we are today. This new Visa Application Centre that we are inaugurating here in Kolkata will offer a better environment and better services to our customers. It is not unique: we are upgrading all of our visa offices around India.
- Visas for students. We offer Indian students wanting to come to Britain a great deal. Every Indian student is welcome in the UK. We have set no limit on the numbers of Indian students who can come to Britain. If you have a place at a UK university and speak decent English, you will get your visa. And you can work in the UK afterwards – for up to six years, provided you get a graduate level job.
So don’t believe the myths. The UK is open – for business, for visitors, for students. We look forward to welcoming even more Indians to Britain this year. Indians who visit the UK have a good time and leave with a good impression. We aim to make that good impression on you before you even leave India – with the best visa service there is.