Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Britain launches \'super priority\' same-day visa service for Indians

May 15, 2013,LONDON:

Britain on Tuesday rolled out the same-day visa for Indians, making it the first country to get a visa to visit UK within 24 hours.

The same-day visa service was announced by British prime minister David Cameron during his recent visit to India.

However, it comes with a fat price - it will cost £600 (nearly Rs 50,000) in addition to the price of the visa.

Those in Delhi and Mumbai will be able to apply for this service.

The UK home ministry said the \'super priority\' visa is the first-of-its-kind to be launched ever and there are plans to expand the scheme to Chennai in the next few weeks.

Immigration minister Mark Harper said \"this government is committed to encouraging international business to invest in Britain. India and Britain have a long history of trade and we run our largest visa operation in the world there. We are delighted to be able to launch our first same-day visa service in Delhi and Mumbai, and make our world class visa service even better.\"

UK home office added that the service will be available to those who are applying for a six-month or two-year multiple entry visitor visa (excluding student visit visas) and have travelled without difficulty in the last five years to one of the following countries - UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada or a Schengen country. Those who are employees of companies that are members of the Business Express Programme (managed by UK Trade and Investment in India) and are travelling as an official business visitor will also be able to apply.

The Home office added \"We strongly recommend that customers with any form of adverse immigration history do not use this service. Using the super priority visa service does not imply or guarantee in any way that your visa application will be successful. All applicants must meet the requirements of the UK\'s immigration rules.\"

Speaking to TOI, UK\'s minister of state at the foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) in-charge of India Hugo Swire said \"Our signal to India is clear - we are open for business.\" Swire accompanied British prime minister David Cameron during his recent India.

Swire had told TOI \"we want India to invest more in the UK. There is huge opportunity for investment as billions will be required for renewal of Britain\'s public infrastructure.\"

India will be the first country where the new single-day visa will be rolled out following which it will be rolled out in China, Brazil, Turkey and South Africa.

Current cost of a business visa for a short-term (up to 6 months, single or multiple entry) costs Rs 6650. A long term visa valid for up to 5 years costs Rs 42,200 while that for 10 years cost Rs 60900.

Over the past five years, on an average, 70,000 business visas have been issued per year to Indians.

Officials say the issue rate has been high with \"almost all Indians who apply for a UK business visa get one.\"

In 2012 for instance, 67,400 business visas were issued of the 69,600 applications received - an approval rate of 97%.

UK\'s home office says the new scheme, announced during Cameron\'s recent visit will feature a super priority visa service for regular visitors, trusted business visitors and Tier 2 applicants.

India remains the UK\'s biggest visa operation in the world, processing around 400,000 applications each year. The Home Office says the vast majority of applications - over 97% of UK business visit visas and 86% per cent of visit visas - are approved and UKBA processes 95% of applications within 15 working days.

British High Commissioner to India Sir James Bevan recently said over 300,000 Indians come to the UK each year.

Tourism is a major contributor to the UK economy (9% of UK GDP and employment) which in 2012 attracted just over 31 million visitors, our best year since 2008.

Sir James Bevan said \"By 2020 we aim to attract 40 million visitors a year. Indian tourists are central to that ambition. As India\'s prosperity grows and its middle class expands, more and more Indians are looking to travel abroad. When they get on that aircraft, we are very clear where we want them to come: to the UK. But we never forget that everyone has a choice. There are 193 countries in the world: all of them have something to recommend them.\" A scathing report recently by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee had found that the already existing backlog of applications will take 24 years to clear by the UK Border Agency.

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