Category Archives: Visa

Tourism from India to Russia grows 27.5 per cent

At the recently-concluded Round Table on Tourism on the sidelines of the Russian Indian Summit 2018, Ivan Breganov, Regional Manager of IFS (Russian Visa Center) confirmed that the number of tourist visas issued from January to September 2018 has already surpassed the total number of visas issued in 2017, pegging the YoY growth around 27 per cent. The round table was organised by Russia Expo Center, Moscow along with Russian Information Center, Mumbai (RIC) with more than 120 trade professionals from India attending along with TAAI MC Member Rajan Sehgal and EEMA Executive Vice President Sanjiv Pasricha making the keynote address along with Timur Vekilov, Chief Representative in India of Russ Expo Center. The round table moderated by Paresh Navani, Director, Russ Information Center discussed the needs and special services required by Indians and ways to address the same. In this regard, Russ Information Center announced the pre-launch of Ural Airlines set to begin operations from March 24, 2019 connecting Mumbai to Yekaterinburg and Moscow along with some tourism products to take advantage of the new airline service between the two countries, further RIC presented its ‘Indian Friendly’ programme to the Indian travel trade, the Indian friendly programme trains Russian hotels on Indian culture, cooking Indian dishes and ensure that other specific needs are provided to Indians in Russia. Another point noted by the attendees was that tourists from Russia to India has also grown over the last years by around 29 per cent, showing good recovery of arrival compared to the past few years.

Read More » launches online visa services for 50 most-visited destinations has launched its tourist and business visitor visa application service for 50 countries, most frequented by Indians. Conceived and developed, in Mumbai, by a team of skilled entrepreneurs, is built to create a simple and counselled internet visa application process, with accurate and updated information on visa regulations and the convenience of applying for visa anytime. The application process covers E-visa, third party and in-person submission with interview and biometrics collection. Every applicant receives personalised attention and is assisted by a call center, web chat, SMS alerts and email confirmations. One can start to process visa for themselves and or their family and friends. Business house travel administrators can use the portal for all their executives. With 50 million Indians travelling abroad every year for short visits the crying need for an easy online visa process is now fulfilled. At the launch, Apurva Mody, Founder Director,, said “Our travel plans need not be shattered for not being able to obtain a visa. Planning with timely information and guidance is the key.” Besides visa information, also provides a destination country profile, customs and duty-free information, driving license information, health, travel tips and VAT refund information. Also included is emergency handling information such as Indian embassy and consulate contacts overseas.

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Easy visa application process ups Indian arrivals to Australia by 20%

Since the introduction of the new visa system by the Department of Home Affairs (HA), arrivals from India to Australia have surged by 20 per cent. The online application process provides a more convenient option for Indians looking to visit Australia, by allowing them to apply for their Australian tourist visa within the comfort of their home, without any biometric requirement or physically submitting their passport to the Department. Tania Gerlach, Chief Migration Officer, Department of Home Affairs, commented, “The expansion of online lodgement to Indian applicants is an important step in managing the large number of visitor visa applications processed in India. Processing times for these visas are now faster, as both applications and supporting documentation are immediately available to the processing office.” Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager – India, Tourism Australia, said, “We see the introduction of online visitor visa lodgement as a progressive and innovative measure to ease travel logistics. In addition to destination delights to woo potential tourists, ease of access is usually seen as a catalyst that drives decision making.” Consumers can conveniently apply for their Australian visitor visa through the Department’s Immi Account portal. Online visa lodgement offers benefits such as 24/7 accessibility, electronic payment of the visa application charge and the ability to check the status of applications lodged online.

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Israel opens Visa Application Centre in Kolkata

In an effort to encourage more Indian travellers to visit Israel, the Embassy of Israel in India has opened a Kolkata Israel Visa Application Centre for West Bengal and Northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. Additionally, visa applications in jurisdiction under the New Delhi centre are also acceptable at the new Kolkata Centre. The visa application categories include B1 for employment, B2 for business, tourism, meeting or conference and A2 for students. Commenting on the new opening, Hassan Madah, Director, Israel Ministry of Tourism – India & Philippines said, “Israel is experiencing a tourism boom like never before. India has recorded a half yearly growth of 82% as compared to the same period in 2015 and has become one of the best performing markets in Asia for Israel. The new centre in Kolkata will no longer require residents from West Bengal and Northeastern states to send in their documents to the Embassy in New Delhi.” Among other initiatives, Israel recently announced a reduction in visa fees to Rs 1,100 from its previous Rs 1,700 charge for Indian citizens. In December last year, relaxed visa documentation was brought in for applicants who have availed visas of Schengen countries, US, Canada, Australia or Israel and have completed their travel to these destinations. Madah added, “The Ministry of Tourism will be conducting a roadshow in Kolkata on August 29 to increase interest for the destination among consumers and trade fraternity.”

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No visa fee for children under 18 visiting UAE

Children of tourists, under the age of 18 visiting UAE will be exempted from visa fee, during the summer season from July 15 to September 15 of each year. The new law came in support of family tourism and reduce the cost on visitors in the holiday season. The Cabinet’s decision reflects the UAE’s position in the global tourism sector as a prime destination attracting visitors and families from all over the world. The number of passengers travelling through the country’s airports reached 32.8 million passengers during the first quarter of this year. Visitors come to the UAE to enjoy hotels and tourism services, with a number of festivals and activities happening throughout the year. The decision of the Cabinet goes in line with the growth of the tourism sector in the country following the exemption of transit tourists from visa fees for the first 48 hours.    

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Uzbekistan introduces e-visa and visa-free transit

Uzbekistan has started issuing an electronic visa for citizens of 51 countries, including India, to enter the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan, effective July 15, 2018. The issued e-visa is valid for 90 days from the date of its issuance. The application for processing an e-visa must be submitted at least three working days before the planned date of trip to Uzbekistan. The consular fee for processing and issuing an e-visa is $20. Foreign citizens aged under 16, holding an international passport or a biometric travel document, may enter and stay in Uzbekistan for the validity period of the entry visa of the accompanying person, but not longer than 90 days from the date of entry into Uzbekistan. From July 15, the five-day visa-free transit procedure will take effect for the citizens of 101 countries, including India at the Uzbek airports, provided they hold an air ticket to a third country, and the carrier must provide information about passengers to the border authorities of Uzbekistan.

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Ethiopia launches e-visa service for all international visitors

The Ethiopian Immigration and Nationality Affairs Main Department in collaboration with Ethiopian Airlines has recently launched an e-visa service for all international visitors to Ethiopia. The e-visa is processed and issued online on a single webpage where applicants apply, pay and secure their entry visa online. Once the application is approved, applicants will receive an email authorising them to travel to Ethiopia and they will get their passport stamped with the visa upon arrival in Addis Ababa. Regarding the newly revamped service, Tewolde GebreMariam, Group CEO, Ethiopian Airlines remarked, “Ethiopia, the oldest independent civilisation in Africa and one of the oldest in the world, is endowed with historical places, natural beauty, colourful and diverse cultural activities and various endemic wild animals which are of great interest to international tourists. However, we have not made best use of these natural resources to attract large number of tourists. To this effect, this project is part of a new national initiative to transform the tourism sector in the country.” Gebreyohannes Teklu, Director – Main Department for Immigration & Nationality Affairs commented, “We are glad that we have been working together with Ethiopian Airlines for the effective implementation of e-visa facilities at Bole International Airport. Now international visitors to Ethiopia, from any country in the world will make use of this service.”

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Israel reduces visa fee to INR 1,100 for Indian travellers

In an effort to encourage more Indian travellers to visit Israel, the country has reduced its visa fee to INR 1,100 from its previous INR 1,700 charge for Indian citizens. VFS Global currently offers visa processing services for Israeli visas in the cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. Centres will soon open in Hyderabad and Kolkata to service the residents in these cities, who will not be required to send their documents to the Consulates in Mumbai and Bengaluru or the Embassy in New Delhi. The revised application fee is on the B2 visa category, where a visit to Israel is for purposes including business, meeting or conference or tourism. Commenting on the initiatives, Hassan Madah, Director, Israel Ministry of Tourism – India & Philippines said, “We are happy to announce the reduction in visa fees for Indian travellers with immediate effect. I am confident that this move will encourage more people to choose Israel as a holiday destination and boost inbound numbers from India. I am confident that the revised visa fees will help grow the numbers.” In September 2017, the Ministry introduced one-year multiple entry visas for business travellers to Israel. Steps are being taken towards bringing more changes to make the process faster and easier for Indian travellers to visit Israel.

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VFS Global GDPR-compliant after data privacy rules come into effect

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went live recently, making it exigent that every business in India dealing with an EU counterpart pledges compliance. The legislation raises the standards of personal data privacy across the world by changing the rules of companies that collect, store or process user information. VFS Global, at the individual level, any outbound traveller to any of the Schengen and UK destinations, irrespective of nationality, is now covered under the sweeping data protection and privacy rights regulation. Barry Cook, Group Data Protection Officer, VFS Global explained that, as of May 25, 2018, businesses dealing in travel and visa facilitation services had to have critically evaluated and reinforced their information management systems to avoid the risk of data breaches, which can now attract heavy fines. The law was enacted two years ago while its enforcement across all 28 EU countries came into effect at midnight on May 25, 2018. The scope of GDPR is sweeping and encompasses right to access data, modification and erasure, right to object to automate processing or even to restrict processing, among others.  It also forbids targeted emails unless there is explicit consent from an individual at the receiving end. “We process millions of visa applications to EU nations from 139 countries world over, and it is imperative for us to put in fool proof systems to abide by the legislation. In general, travel and visa facilitation companies, by virtue of the nature of their business, are heavily exposed to personal data, which means that the industry as a whole needs to have imminent readiness to be GDPR-compliant,” Cook said.

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BLS to support Sopra Steria in processing applications for UK

United Kingdom Visas & Immigration, (UKVI), a division of the UK Home Office, responsible for deciding who can visit and stay within the UK, has awarded Sopra Steria a new contract to enable visa renewals for those individuals who are already in the UK. BLS International Services will be supporting Sopra Steria and UKVI by establishing and delivering some of the key value-added services under the contract. BLS International Services currently handles approximately 12 million visa applications annually across its global network. It will now assist in the processing applications for permission to remain in the UK on behalf of the Home Office. Shikhar Aggarwal, Joint Managing Director, BLS International, comments, “We are privileged to be part of this new partnership in the United Kingdom. It reinforces our company’s position within the UK and significantly enhances our stature as a leading service partner to client Governments worldwide. We will deploy our world class solution to provide an innovative and convenient service to the UK Home Office and its applicants.”

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