Category Archives: Visa

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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India fourth on list of most applications for Schengen visas

India figures among the top five countries with the most number of Schengen visa applications in 2017, according to recently released statistics by the European Commission. Schengen visa is required by those who wish to visit or travel to and within the Schengen Area, which comprises 26 countries in Europe. According to schengenvisainfo.com, India climbed to the fourth spot in 2017 ( with 9,20,699 applications) as the countries that received the maximum number of Schengen visa applications at the corresponding consulates or embassies of Schengen Area countries worldwide, after Russia, China and Turkey. In 2014, Indians were seventh, and fifth in 2016. France remained the favourite country to visit for Indians with 1.79 lakh Schengen uniform visas (a permit of one of the Schengen Area member countries to transit or reside in the desired territory for a certain period of time up to the maximum of 90 days every six-month period starting from the date of entry) issued by France to Indians in 2017. This was out of 2.01 lakh applications received by French consulates in India (New Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mumbai and Puducherry). Overall too, France received the most number of applications for short-term visas compared to other Schengen countries (4.18 lakh more than in 2016, when France consulates around the world received 32.65 lakh visa applications). Germany received the second highest number of visa applications from Indians, followed by Italy and Netherlands.

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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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Government earns ₹1,400 crore from e-Visa

The government earned ₹1,400 crore as revenue from the e-Visa scheme, offered to citizens of 163 countries visiting India as tourists, since its launch in 2014. The Union Home Ministry officials said 19 lakh tourists made use of the e-Visa scheme in 2017 and it is expected that more than 25 lakh tourists will avail the facility in 2018. Since its launch in 2014, the e-Visa scheme has brought in revenue of more than ₹1,400 crore, a senior ministry official said. The e-visa fees are divided into four slabs of zero, $25, $50 and $75, which were fixed on reciprocity and depending on nationality. The scheme has been implemented by the foreigners division of the Home Ministry to improve the efficiency and transparency of various services being provided to foreign nationals. The facility is now available for nationals of 163 countries for entry into India through 25 international airports and five sea ports. Under the scheme, an applicant, when an online application is submitted, receives an e-mail authorising him or her to travel to India after it has been approved. The tourist can travel with a printout of this authorisation, another official said. The scheme also covers business and medical categories. SOURCE: PTI

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UK extends 24-hour visa service to Pune and Bengaluru

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has announced an extension of the Super Priority Visa service (SPV) to Pune and Bengaluru, meaning that more Indians can get a visa decision in 24 hours or less. SPV is an optional service for customers in India who need to travel to the UK urgently. Pune and Bengaluru add to the three locations this service is already offered – Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai. SPV applications are assessed to exactly the same high standard as all other applications but are handled by UKVI at the highest priority, with dedicated staff members processing cases at the front of the queue and an express courier service ensuring quick return to the customer. This means that the 24-hour turnaround is achievable and secure. Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes said, “I am pleased that the Super Priority Visa service is being extended to even more Indian cities, giving many more UK visa customers the opportunity to receive a visa decision in 24 hours or less if needed. India was the first country in the world to receive this service in 2013 – and is once again leading the way as two more cities – Pune and Bengaluru – receive this first class visa service. This is further proof of the strength of the UK-India relationship and of the focus by UKVI on providing a convenient, world-class experience for Indian visa applicants.” The extension of this service aims to support the UK-India Technology Partnership, which will include establishing ‘tech clusters’ in these strategically important cities.

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Oman simplifies visa-on-arrival rules to attract more Indians

The Royal Oman Police (ROP) has announced that visas will only be granted electronically, effective March 21, 2018, and there will be no more hand-processed visas at the airport. Royal Oman Police, Sultanate of Oman said, “The migration to electronic visas is due to its simplicity and effectiveness, its alignment with modern technology and is in line with the e-government project of the Sultanate. Further, it will save tourists and visitors’ time by avoiding long queues at the airport. The system has been thoroughly tested and more than 12,000 users have already benefited from it. The system is considered to be one of the safest and most confidential in the world, having achieved an ISO certification.” The e-visa application explains clearly the process of obtaining visas either individually or collectively such as obtaining a visa through a tourism company in a simplified way. Additionally, the application clarifies the visa formalities for various groups of countries. In addition, specialists at ROP are available 24 hours a day to provide support. Applicants can obtain visas via the URL- evisa.rop.gov.om, and seek assistance through the official account of eVisa system on twitter- @OmanEvisa. The new e-visa system, coinciding with the opening of the new Muscat International Airport, supports the Oman Tourism Strategy in attracting more tourists and tourism investment into the country, whereby the number of tourists to Oman in 2040 will reach over 11 million by 2040.

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Uzbekistan eases visa norms to attract more tourists

The Republic of Uzbekistan has introduced a simplified procedure for issuing tourist visas for citizens of 39 countries including India. Citizens of these countries now should not submit tourist voucher or invitation letter to receive visa. Consular offices of Uzbekistan will issue visas for citizens of these countries within two working days. Travellers from India no longer have to show LOI (letter of invitation) but simply apply for a visa at the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Delhi. From July 2018 onwards, tourists can apply for visas online (E-visa) and collect it on arrival.

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Over 526,000 UK visas issued to Indian nationals

Over 526,000 UK visas were issued to Indian nationals between January and December 2017, a jump of nearly 10 per cent from 2016. According to the latest quarterly report from the UK’s Office for National Statistics, British visas issued to Indian nationals in 2017 increased sharply over the previous 12 months. The increase was driven by a surge in visitors and students with visitors increasing by 11 per cent to 427,000 and students by 28 per cent to 14,500. Indian nationals still receive more employment visas than all other nationalities combined, with 59,000 Indians choosing the UK to further their careers. Dominic Asquith, British High Commissioner to India, KCMG, said, “These statistics illustrate the continuing strength of the UK and India’s relationship.  I am delighted that more Indians than ever before are choosing the UK for work, study, tourism and business travel. Particularly welcome is the 28 per cent increase in Indian students, showing that our world-class universities are again attracting more of India’s brightest young people. Our visa service for Indians is as good as any other. Almost 90 per cent of applicants are issued visa, in line with global norms. We have more visa application centres across India than we do in any other country.”

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