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Indian High Commissioner promises to ramp up visa capacity in UK

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Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami took to Twitter on Wednesday (12) to explain steps being taken to ramp up capacity and address the difficulty in getting an Indian visa by travellers from Britain.

There has been a mounting backlog for Indian visas in recent months, as applicants complain of a shortage of appointments available and lengthy processing times.

Doraswami revealed that there are plans for a new visa centre in Scotland by next week and one in central London by the end of the month, with the goal of doubling the capacity of visas handled by the outsourced VFS centres.

“First and foremost, we understand that there has been difficulty in getting these appointments, we are doing our best to ameliorate the situation,” he said in his video message from India House in London.

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“The essence of this effort is to ensure that we get up to about 40,000 visa applications per month, which is double our capacity. We also hear your concerns with regard to the ease of being able to submit applications. We are working on solutions for this with our service provider and will have an update on that. Our goal is that you should be able to travel easily, with less difficulty, with less effort in getting your paperwork done for the holiday season.”

The diplomat, who took charge in London at the end last month, said his team is ensuring more bookings are being released on its online booking service and that these appointments are not being misused, which he said has been the case until recently.

“We are ramping up capacity in partnership with our service provider VFS; this includes the following steps: opening a new visa application centre in Glasgow by early next week. We will be opening a new one in central London, hopefully by the end of the month – work is underway on that one. And, we are increasing capacity at our existing centres, including to handle and receive applications on Saturdays and afternoons and weekdays as well,” he added.

The latest announcement comes amid reports of cancelled Indian holidays in the wake of visa appointments crunch as a result of soaring demand.

Last week, the High Commission had issued a statement saying that it is investigating reports of unauthorised agents illegally charging fees to get visas processed for travellers to India.

“It has come to our notice that unauthorised agents and individuals are illegally charging fees and collecting India visa applications for submission at VFS Centres, misleading applicants and misrepresenting the services that they can legally provide,” the statement said.

It also reiterated that there had been no change in the visa application process for individual visa applicants.

The UK is currently not included in the over 150 countries that can access the online tourist e-visa option when travelling to India, which has also caused considerable strain for tourists who are facing long waits at the outsourced VFS centres for their applications to be processed.

(PTI)

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