British High Commission issued a record 400,000 visas in 2013 marking a 5 per cent increase over the previous year. Around 110,000 visas were issued from south India!
British Deputy High Commissioner Bharat Joshi said that UK was aiming to be India’s partner of choice: “we want to make the visa application process quicker, more pleasant and remain the best in India.” Stringent admission processes and the depreciation of the rupee has led to a drop in student applications; about 10 per cent across Chennai, and 20 per cent across India. However, attractive substantial investments in student scholarships have encouraged more and more students to study in UK. 32,000 students had applied at the end of last year. Recent trends have revealed a spurt in business, tourist and student visas, said Joshi.
The centrally located, new UK Visa Application Centre is at the Fagun Towers, Egmore. Managed by VFS Global, with a dedicated website, staff with local language capability, additional registration and biometric counters, it is more customer-friendly. Says Vishal Jairath, Regional Head South Asia, VFS Global: “exclusive video conferencing booths will handle peak season student interviews. Additional services include premium lounge, fast track, super priority, passport pass back, courier and SMS. Faster turn-around of applications and a new passport pass back service that allows customers to apply and withdraw their passports immediately to apply for visas from other countries where processing times are often longer before returning for the UK visa stamp to be placed in their passport,” he said.