The UK's Immigration Minister James Brokenshire announced a package of new visa service improvements for Indian nationals today.
The improved visa offer was made as part of the Minister's five day visit to India, where he visits both Delhi and Bangalore. The visit builds on the success of Prime Minister Modi's visit to the UK in November. As part of his trip the Minister has met important UK visa customers from the education, travel and business sectors to gain insight into how they use the visa service.
Improvements to the service include expanding the same day, super-priority visa services to first time visitors and work visas. The 3 to 5 day priority visa service will also be expanded to visit, study and work routes allowing more customers in India the opportunity get a visa decision faster.
From the end of this month Indian visit visa applicants will be able to benefit from a new quicker and easier online application form. As well as taking less time the new online form will make it easier for customers going on holiday or for business to the UK and Europe, to apply for both UK and Schengen visas. Once the form has been filled out, customers will be able to download an auto-completed Schengen application form to print and apply with. Initially the form will launch in English but it will be translated into Hindi, Tamil and Gujarati, making it more straightforward for customers across India to apply for their UK visit visas.
As part of the announcement, the Minister revealed the launch of a new visa application centre (VAC) in Lucknow, Utter Pradesh - the first in India's most popular state.
During a trip to a visa application centre in Delhi, Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said:
"India is one of the UK's largest visa market and we continue to make improvements to the service here to make it as easy and straightforward as possible for our customers to apply for their visas.”We are pleased that more and more Indian visitors are choosing to come to the UK on holiday and for business. Last year we saw a 17% increase in the number of visit visas issued. Indian holidaymakers are very welcome in the UK and thanks to our strong cultural and historic ties I think they feel very home at home there. We hope that this year we continue to see an increase in visitors from India and that these improvements prove useful to those applying for their visas." The Immigration Minister will also hold meetings with Ministerial counterparts in the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of External Affairs. Issues discussed include wider UK migration issues and how to better share information relating to criminality.