United Kingdom (UK) granted over 360,000 visitor visas, until September 2015, a 16.5 per cent increase year on year, according to recently released statistics. With the commercial partner VFS, UK offers 15 visa application centres across India, more than in any other country. Visa application centres are situated in Delhi, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Mumbai South, Mumbai North, Pune, Ahmadabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Cochin, Kolkata, Gurgaon, Jaipur and Goa. A number of premium services are offered to the UK Visa applicants at the Visa Application Centre (VAC). VFS Users can avail walk in appointments where urgent travellers or those who have missed their appointment, can pay Rs 2537 to get a walk in appointment. Digital Assistance is provided in filling out the visa application form on the visa4uk website. The staff reads out questions on the form, and records the answers verbatim on behalf of the applicant for an extra cost of Rs 400.
Group Appointments is available for group travellers who can apply at the same visa application centre at a particular time and day. This service is extended to all groups including tour operators, large families, conferences etc for Rs 500 per application. Travellers can pay for their visa by cash at the VAC, using VFS Global’s Credit Card at an additional cost of Rs 1000 per transaction. Certification service enables travellers to keep hold of their original documents. Applicants need to bring original documentation to the VAC to show VFS staff, who photocopy the documents and send to the decision hub along with the application. This service costs Rs 50 per document page.
In 2015, India became the second country to benefit from the British Irish Visa Scheme, allowing Indian nationals to travel to the UK and Ireland on a single visit visa. Last year the transit visa regime was simplified to allow visa free travel for Indian nationals transiting the UK airside who hold a USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Irish biometric visa.