UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) is proposing to introduce a new preferred agency programme in India. The proposal, which could be put in place as early as next month, is intended to ease the visa application process for travel agents and their clients and support Indian companies bringing groups of 150 or more delegates into the UK.
UKVI are piloting the scheme with approximately 50 agents in a bid to test the arrangement and are also exploring steps to expand the scheme to more agents. UKVI are estimating that a third of the visa applications submitted in India will benefit from the preferred scheme in the near future.
The qualified travel agents should be provided a designated contact at UKVI for facilitating the visa process. This, in theory, should make the process at the Visa Application Centres in India simpler, faster and less stressful for applicants.
James Brokenshire, the Immigration Minister for the UK, is said to have quoted:
“The new scheme will allow UKVI to work more closely with trusted agents who will be accountable for the applications they verify. We will train agents so that they can verify applicants on UKVI”s part and ensure the applications they are submitting are genuine. This will ensure the process is clear, competitive and straightforward”.
The UK Minister also confirmed that UKVI is extending the same-day service and the super-priority service for work and student visas and also first time visitors. In effect, this should speed up the length of time it takes to make a decision on these types of visa applications and, therefore, providing a better, more efficient service to applicants.
In addition to the above, it has been suggested that a new Visa Application Centre should be opened in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Talks regarding a new Visa Application Centre based in Lucknow are underway.
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