Category Archives: Visa

Britain imposes email charge on visas

Visa applicants wishing to contact UK Visas and Immigration by email will be charged £5.48 (Rs. 455.31), as customer enquiries are shifted to a new commercial partner, Sitel UK. This change and others, which include the reduction of languages in which services are offered, and changes to opening hours were needed to “help the government reduce costs and ensure those who benefit directly from the UK immigration system make an appropriate contribution,” UK Visa and Immigration reportedly said in a statement earlier this week. Britain’s share of India’s outbound tourist market has halved in the past decade. “We welcome our many visitors from India to the UK but we cannot take their interest in coming here for granted,” Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive, British Hospitality Association, was quoted as saying. “Tourism is a highly price and time sensitive activity. If the visa application process is too cumbersome, demands too much time and the cost of the visa is perceived to be too high, potential visitors are put off and quickly turn to the completion.” Ibrahim contrasted Britain’s falling share of India’s tourism market (which has been growing at an annual rate of 10 per cent) with that of German and France. (Source-PTI)

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US Visa vetting becomes tougher; includes social media info

The Trump administration has reportedly enforced a new extreme visa screening process for foreign nationals–—including those from India–—under which applicants might be asked to share information regarding their social media accounts, emails and telephone numbers. The State Department, which issues visas to foreign nationals through its diplomatic missions across the world, said that it started implementing this new change from May 25. But these additional questions would be asked only in extreme circumstances, the State Department said. “The additional questions apply to nationals of every country worldwide, including Indian nationals, but only when a consular officer determines that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting,” Will Cocks, a State Department spokesman, told PTI. Asserting that national security is a top administration priority when adjudicating visa applications, Cocks said every prospective traveller to the US undergoes extensive security screening. “We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes and to support legitimate travel and immigration to the United States while protecting US citizens,” he said. The State Department took these measures after President Donald Trump signed an executive order in this regard. “In accordance with the presidents March 6, 2017 memorandum on enhancing the screening and vetting of applications for visas, the Department of State has begun collecting additional information from visa applicants worldwide when a consular officer determines that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting,” he said. Such visa applicants will be asked to provide additional information, including their social media handles, prior passport numbers, additional information about family members, and a longer history of past travel, employment and contact information, Cocks …

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VFS launches Czech Republic VAC in Puducherry

The Embassy of the Czech Republic and VFS Global have launched the 13th Czech Republic Visa Application Centre in Puducherry, India, bringing access to visa application facilities for residents of Puducherry. The centre was inaugurated by Milan Hovorka, Ambassador of the Czech Republic in India, on May 08, 2017. The inauguration was also attended by other key members from the Embassy and VFS Global. This new centre in Puducherry is centrally located at Eswaran Kovil Street. At the launch, Hovorka said, “The launch of the Czech Republic Visa Application Centre in Puducherry reflects the country’s genuine commitment to bolster people-to-people contacts between the two friendly nations by tourism, business and culture. As a result of this policy, the Czech Republic has emerged as one of the most preferred European destination for Indian tourists.” Commenting on the launch, Vinay Malhotra, Chief Operating Officer – Middle East and South Asia, VFS Global, said, “We are pleased to further enhance the visa services network for the Czech Republic in India, through the visa application facility in Puducherry. The new centre will serve the ever-increasing volumes of visa applications for the Schengen country, and illustrates the emerging popularity of the Czech Republic as a tourist destination. We are confident that the introduction of professional and hassle-free Czech Republic visa services in Puducherry will be well-received by aspiring travellers from this city.”

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Gulf Air appoints VFS Global to provide visa for Bahrain

Gulf Air has partnered with VFS Global to facilitate visa issuance for passengers flying to the Kingdom of Bahrain. The online visa facility will launch this summer on gulfair.com. Signing the agreement with VFS Global, Gulf Air Chief Commercial Officer, Ahmed Janahi, said, “We are partnering with VFS Global to provide a much needed service to Gulf Air passengers that will support our national carrier’s longstanding efforts to promote the Kingdom as a destination to a broad spectrum of travellers while making the process of obtaining a visa to Bahrain easier and more convenient. Soon, Gulf Air passengers will be able to easily obtain short term visit visas to Bahrain via our website gulfair.com – allowing them to come to Bahrain and experience all that our Kingdom has to offer in terms of tourism, business opportunities and more.” Zubin Karkaria, Chief Executive Officer, VFS Global Group, says, “Integrating next-generation convenience into the traditional visa process lies at the heart of our services. We are pleased to synergise our efforts with Gulf Air and the Government of Bahrain to ensure greater flexibility and digital-friendly services for visitors to Bahrain, while maintaining the security requirements of the visa process. We believe the online e-visa platform will make visa application much more convenient for Gulf Air customers, providing them with greater speed and transparency in the process, thereby enhancing their overall experience.” Vinay Malhotra, Chief Operating Officer, Middle East & South Asia, VFS Global, added, “Applying for an eVisa through our dedicated online platform, designed exclusively for Gulf Air passengers, will transform the visa application experience for passengers, offering more customer-centric services. Quicker turnaround times, 24X7 accessibility, and online tracking, amongst other advantages, …

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Now visa free travel for Indian tourists to Far East Russia

Tourists and businessmen from India and 17 other countries can now travel to Russia’s Far East without a visa, informed Dmitry Medvedev, the Prime Minister of Russia. In order to boost tourism and investment in the region, the nationals of these 18 countries will have simplified entry procedures into Russia through the free port of Vladivostok. According to Pavel Volkov, Deputy Minister, Development of the Far East, tourists and entrepreneurs will only be required to fill a form on the website of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Applications will be approved within four days. Electronic single entry visas will be issued directly at the Russian border and will be valid for 30 days. The 17 countries apart from India include Algeria, Bahrain, Brunei, Iran, Qatar, China, North Korea, Kuwait, Morocco, Mexico, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tunisia, Turkey, and Japan. “I have recently approved the list of countries, whose nationals can take advantage of the preferential regime. We are proactively forming the modern infrastructure and creating special regimes in the far East; the law on visits to the Vladivostok free port was approved in March. This is not because these states are situated at a closer or longer distance – we are appropriately introducing bilateral agreements on visa-free travel for those ready to use such an approach for us,” said Medvedev. Volkov further said, “We’d like to see an increase in tourism to the region by at least 30 percent. Given the fact that every wealthy tourist spends at least $1,000 in the territory, we assume this will significantly increase the opportunities for the development of the region, trade turnover, and currency flows.” Source: Live Mint  

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Israel offers 5-year multiple entry business visa for Indians

Israel is going to offer five-year multiple entry visa for Indian businessmen. The move is to improve the bilateral trade between the two countries, especially with the scheduled visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel, tentatively in July this year. Visa has been a major point of discussion between the two countries for many years. The easing of business visa might be followed by easing of visa process for Indian tour groups as well. According to Amir Halevi, Director General of Israel Tourism, the country is planning to ease visa norms for Indians thinking of visiting Israel. An embassy statement quoting Ambassador Daniel Carmon said the initiative was part of the growing partnership between India and Israel.

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Thailand Visa Application Centre shifts to Nariman Point

Cox & Kings Global Services’ Thailand Visa Application Centre (VAC) has moved to a new spacious office in Nariman Point, Mumbai. The new office was inaugurated recently by His Excellency Ekapol Poolpipat, Consul General, Royal Thai Consulate in Mumbai. The office is more spacious and offers a lot of benefits to customers including more application counters to make it quicker and easier for customers to submit their visa applications. Customers can submit their application from Monday to Friday 08:00 hours to 12:00 hours (except holidays), while timings for passport collection are- Monday to Friday 16:00 hours to 17:00 hours (except holidays). It is located at Dalamal Towers, A Wing, 4th Floor, Unit No: 410 – 412, Free Press Journal Marg, Nariman Point.

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Business & medical e-visa now available for application

With effect from April 1, 2017, the e-visa facility for business and medical tourism is finally open for application. While the e-tourist visa facility was the first one to be launched, the central government further added the e-business and e-medical visa in an effort to propagate ease of visa facilitation. Furthermore, the facility has been extended to the nationals of 161 countries for entry through 24 airports and three Indian Ports while the window for application under e-visa scheme has been increased from 30 days to 120 days. Duration of stay on e-visa has also been increased from 30 days to 60 days with double entry on e-Tourist and e-Business visa and triple entry on e-Medical visa. Additionally, separate immigration counters and facilitation desks to assist medical tourist have been provided at six major Indian airports. A new category of Visa, Film (F) Visa, has also been introduced with maximum duration of one year with multiple entry facility.

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Oz visa processing may take 3 weeks due to high demand

Australian High Commission in India has advised visa applicants not to finalise their travel arrangements until they get a visa. The visa office at the Australian High Commission, New Delhi is currently experiencing a very high volume of Visitor visa lodgements from applicants travelling to Australia from India, especially in the upcoming summer months.  As a result, visa processing is taking longer than usual. Visitor-Tourist visa applications are currently taking up to 17 working days (over 3 weeks) to be processed. Visitor-Business visa applications are currently taking up to 10 working days (up to 2 weeks) to be processed. Hence, they have recommended to lodge the visa application well ahead of the proposed travel date and only finalise travel arrangements after the visa process has been completed. Agents are also advised to write to the High Commission only if the application is not processed within the current processing timelines.

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Malaysia offers multiple-entry e-visa to Indians on OTOAI’s request

Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak has announced the launch of multiple entry e-visa valid for 15 days for Indian nationals. The announcement came a day after Guldeep Singh Sahni, President, Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI), met Dato’ Seri Mohd. Nazir Abdul Aziz, Minister of Tourism & Culture, Govt. of Malaysia, along with Raghuvinder Singh of D Pauls Travel and suggested that e-visa facility being offered to Indians should be made multiple entry. The suggestion led the Minister to take action and decision was taken within a day, and the Malaysian Prime Minister announced, “I would like more Indians to visit Malaysia and I have informed the Prime Minister that we have decided to allow no visa fee, online application approval within 48 hours and multiple entry to be accorded for Indian nationals.” The Malaysian Prime Minister met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his official visit to the country on April 1. Sahni said, “Thanks to Datuk Seri Mirza Mohd Taiyab, Director General Tourism Malaysia, Dato Daljit Singh, Indian Community Relations Advisor to the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia, Datuk Siew Ka Wei, Chairman Tourism Malaysia and Sulaiman Suip as the new Director, North & East India operations, for their contribution. We acknowledge Hon. Dato Seri’ Mohd Nazir Abdul Aziz and his team for taking action so quickly.”

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