Shift to bigger premises follows last year’s increase in visas issued in the country
The UK Visa Application Centre of VFS Global in the city has moved to new premises that are bigger and promise applicants better services.
The shift to the new premises, on the 2 floor of Fagun Towers, Ethiraj Salai, Egmore, comes in the backdrop of an increase by five per cent in the number of UK visas issued in India last year as compared to 2012.
British deputy high commissioner Bharat Joshi, who inaugurated the new facility on Wednesday, said the UK aims to be India’s partner-of-choice.
“That includes offering the very best visa service for genuine applicants,” Mr. Joshi said, listing a number of options offered to customers by VFS, which accepts applications for UK visas from applicants residing in Chennai. A courier service which ensures delivery of visas to applicants at home or in office is one of them.
He also highlighted the new ‘passport passback’ service that allows customers to retain their passports after applying for a UK visa, so they can apply for visas from other countries. They can then return the passport for the UK visa to be placed.Fall in student visas
Last year saw a significant increase in the number of business visas issued. But, there was drop in the student visas by 20 per cent during the same period, which, Mr. Joshi said, could be attributed to factors including a stringent admission process and depreciation of the rupee. There, however, was no restriction with regard to the number of student visas that could be issued, he added.
Regional head (South Asia) of VFS Global, Vishal Jairath, said the new application centre could accommodate around 300 applicants at any point in time. It is equipped with additional registration and biometric counters for faster completion of the application process, as well as exclusive video conferencing booths to handle student interviews during the peak season.
Video conferencing is a recent addition to the list of requirements for student visa applications as part of which applicants are interviewed by visa officials in the UK from the hub in Sheffield. The process, introduced as part of measures to prevent fraudulent entry into the UK, assesses the students for their English proficiency and knowledge about the courses.
On initiatives between the two countries, sources said the British Deputy High Commission was in discussion with the Tamil Nadu government to launch a pilot study on primary healthcare in the State.