Category Archives: Visa

Embassy of Vietnam signs BLS International for its visa applications in India

Embassy of Vietnam signs BLS International for its visa applications in India and has also been authorised as the only company to handle the ‘Attestation and Legalisation Services’ for the Embassy of Vietnam. Shikhar Agarwal, Jt. Managing Director said, “We are honoured by the confidence and trust the Embassy has reposed in us for ensuring a smooth, efficient and delightful experience for the applicants. To ensure this, we are opening 15 centres across India, covering the major hubs as well as the growing regional cities. Our 15 centres will also facilitate the attestation and legalisation services for the Embassy of Vietnam, exclusively.” BLS International will accept visa applications for travel to Vietnam at 15 centres including Mumbai, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Goa, Kochi, Lucknow, Raipur, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chandigarh and Trivandrum. In recent months, BLS International has been gearing up to provide innovative solutions to Governments and Citizens across the globe and had engaged global consulting firm EY to review structures and processes. The company is now implementing their recommendations that will enable it to re-engineer and transform the business, and has strengthened the Leadership Team with professionals who are respected in the industry for their expertise.

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Indian tourist visas to the UK go up by 10% in 2018

Indian visitors and tourist numbers saw strong growth in 2018. Visit visas increased by 10% to almost 477,000. More than 1 in 5 (22%) of all UK visit visas in 2018 were granted to Indian nationals. The number of student visas issued to Indians has also reached the highest level since 2011, according to the latest quarterly report on Immigration Statistics published by the UK Home Office. Just over 19,500 Indian nationals were granted a tier 4 student visa in the year ending December 2018. This was a 35 per cent increase on the previous year – the highest total in a single year since 2011. 2018 was a second year of significant increases in this category – meaning Indian student numbers are now over 70 per cent higher as compared to just two years earlier in 2016. Indian workers continue to receive more skilled work visas than the rest of the world combined – India is responsible for 54% of all skilled work visas granted globally. Over 55,000 skilled work visas were granted to Indian nationals last year – more than six per cent higher than in 2017 and the largest increase in numbers for any country. The British High Commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, said, “These latest figures show yet another major increase in the number of visas granted to Indian nationals. I particularly welcome the strong increases in work and student visas for Indian nationals in 2018. Almost 19,500 Indian students received a Tier 4 visa last year – a 35% increase and follows a 27% increase in 2017. Likewise, skilled workers from India in 2018 increased at the fastest rate for any country, showing …

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Indians applying for UK visa can now upload documents online

In a new online visa application journey, Indian customers for UK visas can now experience a more digital visa service as a result of improvements developed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), and VFS Global. UK visa customers can now fill the visa application form, book regular or priority appointments, selfupload documents prior to visiting the centre, or choose from a range of services, in a single online journey. The intuitive and simplified online visa application system, developed by VFS Global for UKVI, is part of UKVI’s continuing initiatives to transform the visa application journey for customers around the world. Shift to an integrated online system previously, Indian visa applicants applied for a visa via two separate websites – Gov.UK and VFS Global. As part of the new customer journey, customers can access information about, or opt for, all visa services at the outset of their visa application journey. Customers now have the option to digitally upload documentation prior to visiting the Visa Application Centre using their smartphone, tablet or other camera/computing device. Customers who opt for the self-upload option can visit the centre with just their passport – meaning less need to carry original documents with them. A scanning service will still be offered by VFS Global, for a fee of 500 INR, however this will be free to customers for a short period. A range of optional services aimed at providing a stress-free application experience can now be opted for online, at the application stage. Customers can opt for the ‘Walk-in without appointment’ service (for customers seeking to submit applications urgently), or ‘Keep My Passport While Applying’ (enabling customers to apply for other visas during the processing of …

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Indian passport becomes stronger, jumps 10 ranks

Continuing to improve its rank on the global passport power rank, the Indian passport has become 10 ranks stronger in the last five years improving its position from 77 in 2015 to 67 in 2019. According to the Passport Index 2019, the Indian passport allows visa-free travel to 25 countries while Indians get visa-on-arrival for 39 countries. The country has improved its position by one spot in comparison to last year. In 2018, the Indian passport ranked 68. Indian tourists still need visas to enter 134 countries in the world. The 2019 Passport Index, which ranks passports of 199 countries on the basis on their Visa-Free Score and their ranking on the UNDP human development index has ranked UAE passport as no 1, which allows visa free entry to 113 countries and provides visa-on-arrival facility in 54 nations around the world. Among SAARC nations, India is only behind Maldives, who ranks 51 on the list. Maldivian passport holder can enter 84 countries visa free or with visa-on-arrival facility.

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Govt liberalises e-visa regime with increase in duration of e-tourist and e-business visa

The government has recently made a series of amendments in the e-visa regime to make it more tourist-friendly. The duration of stay in India of e-tourist and e-business visas is maximum up to one year with multiple entry subject to the stay stipulations. Also, the existing restriction of allowing foreigners for a maximum of three times has also been removed. On e-tourist visa, continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 90 days in case of nationals of all countries who are eligible for grant of e-visa except nationals of USA, UK, Canada and Japan. In case of nationals of USA, UK, Canada and Japan, continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days. In all cases, no registration will be required. On the Changes in e-business visa, continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days in case of nationals of all countries who are eligible for grant of e-visa. No registration will be required if the stay is for a period of less than 180 days. The e-visa is valid for entry through two more designated airports (Bhubaneswar and Port Blair), raising the total number of such airports to 28.

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VFS Global witnesses 22 per cent increase in visa applications from India

VFS Global has witnessed a 22 per cent increase in visa applications from India over a two-year period and processed 5.28 million applications. This was an overall increase of 13 per cent in visa applications observed since 2017 with Tier II cities recording significant increases in 2018. Globally, it saw a 16 per cent increase in the number of visa applications processed in all countries of operation around the world. South Asia emerged as the top source market for foreign travel, with most number of visa applications recorded for this region. Vinay Malhotra, Regional Group Chief Operating Officer – Middle East, South Asia, and China, VFS Global, says, “With the year-on-year increase in visa applications from India, it is evident that foreign travel is no longer the domain of a privileged few. A large part of this growth comes from the smaller cities – more Indians from these cities are travelling abroad than ever before, and are keen to explore even off-beat destinations. There is a greater comfort with visa application process as well today – the anxiety that people used to associate with the process has been significantly eased with options like personalised assistance, doorstep services and document upload assistance being offered at every step.” Visa application counts in the major cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru grew consistently. Significant growth in visa application counts were witnessed in some other metros, such as Ahmedabad (32% growth in 2018) and Pune (20% growth in 2018). Steep year-on-year growth in count was recorded in Tier II cities, such as Jalandhar (66%), Chandigarh (54%), Pondicherry (43%), and Goa (45%).    

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‘eVisa On Arrival’ service goes live from February 14 for seamless entry into Thailand

The new eVisa On Arrival (eVOA) service that will enable a faster and convenient arrival into Thailand for travellers from India and 20 other countries, has become available for applicants from February 14, 2019. The eVOA service offers travellers a whole new experience when entering the country at the Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueng airports in Bangkok, as well as at Phuket and Chiang Mai airports. The service is part of the Government of Thailand’s initiative to promote tourism, and has been developed by the Immigration Bureau of Royal Thai Police and VFS Global. Of the over 1.5 million Indians who visited Thailand in 2018, over 900,000 used the old, time consuming Visa On Arrival service at Thailand airports. Commenting on the new eVOA service, Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, Commissioner of Immigration Bureau, said, “With the eVOA service, we are proud to offer a new age digital solution which enhance the overall experience for the modern-day traveller who seeks to visit Thailand from 21 countries across the globe. In our cooperation with VFS Global, we aim to effectively meet the objective of increasing tourism to the country through this solution especially taking into consideration the all-important security aspect that allows pre-check of travellers prior the arrival.” The new eVOA service offers travellers the conveniences of avoiding long queues, and eliminates the need to fill up application forms on arrival and arrange for paper documentation or local currency which travellers find challenging after a long flight. If there is an urgent visa requirement to travel to Thailand, travellers can also avail online the Express eVOA service for quicker processing. Zubin Karkaria, CEO, VFS Global Group, said, “I am delighted that the …

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India and Maldives to liberalise visa norms from March 11, 2019

India and Maldives exchanged diplomatic notes for the implementation of the visa facilitation agreement with an aim to boost people-to-people ties between the two countries. The agreement provides a very liberal visa regime for Maldivian nationals to visit India for tourism, business, education and medical purposes. It will be effective from March 11 after all formalities including information being provided to all immigration offices, border points and customs authorities have been completed. The agreement was signed during Maldivian President Ibrahim Solih’s visit to India on December 17 last year. The exchange of diplomatic notes follows the signature of the agreement by President Ram Nath Kovind after the Union Cabinet had given its approval, read a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Relations between New Delhi and Male came under strain during former President Abdulla Yameen’s five-year rule, which saw him cosying up with China for various development projects, cracking down on dissent and imposing a state of emergency by jailing opposition leaders. Moreover, there were several diplomatic issues under the Yameen government with many Indian nationals being reportedly denied visas. Solih’s surprise victory in the Maldives presidential elections in last September came as a major diplomatic victory for India, after New Delhi repeatedly warned the Yameen government to respect democratic institutions and free the jailed opposition leaders.    

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Thai immigration with VFS Global to introduce Thailand eVisa service from February 14, 2019

In line with the Government of Thailand’s initiative to promote tourism, the Immigration Bureau of Thailand has partnered with VFS Global to offer the new eVisa On Arrival (eVOA) service that will enable a faster and more convenient arrival process for travellers from 21 countries like India, China, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, to name a few. Travellers who are eligible to use the online eVOA service provided by VFS Global will receive their travel authorisation from the Immigration Bureau of Thailand prior to their departure from their country of origin. The eVOA service will be available as of February 14, 2019 on thailandevoa.vfsevisa.com. The new Thailand eVisa On Arrival offers travellers a whole new experience when applying for a travel pre-authorisation to Thailand and when entering the country at the Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueng airports in Bangkok, as well as at Phuket and Chiang Mai airports flying by Thai Airways and other airlines. In three simple steps, eligible travellers can apply online for eVOA for Thailand by visiting thailandevoa.vfsevisa.com anytime, anywhere or get assistance at VFS Global visa application centres across the globe. Travellers receive their pre-departure travel authorisation online before the trip within 24 to 72 hours. Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, Commissioner of Immigration Bureau, said, “With the eVOA service, we are proud to offer a new age digital solution which enhance the overall experience for the modern-day traveller who seeks to visit Thailand from 21 countries across the globe. In our cooperation with VFS Global, we aim to effectively meet the objective of increasing tourism to the country through this solution especially taking into consideration the all-important security aspect that allows pre-check of travellers prior the arrival, as …

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Thailand extends visa fee waiver till April end

The Government of Thailand has decided to extend the waiver on the 2000-baht visa-on-arrival fee for Indian nationals till April end to boost tourism in the country. The waiver was set to end early January, but the cabinet decided to extend it to allow foreign tourists to Thailand during the Chinese New Year in February and the Songkran festival in the middle of April.

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