//Simpler visa rules to help Indians: British envoy

Simpler visa rules to help Indians: British envoy

Web posted at: 3/9/2006 2:18:58   Source ::: IANS

New Delhi: Terror attacks in London last year have not affected the flow of Indians travelling to Britain, and their number is set to grow further due to simpler visa procedures, High Commissioner Michael Arthur said here yesterday.

Britain issues the largest number of visas to Indians and the simpler visa rules are aimed at weeding out frauds and speeding up the process for genuine visa seekers, Arthur said.

“For genuine visa seekers, it’s going to be an easier and faster system, but for those who want to bend the system, it is going to be more difficult,” Arthur said.

Arthur was speaking to select reporters who were taken on a guided tour of the visa section of the British High Commission – the first time that journalists were permitted entry in this zone – to show them the rigorous yet efficient methods involved in granting visas.

Britain issued nearly 300,000 visas to Indians last year out of 350,000 people who had applied. There is likely to be an increase of 20 percent this year, Arthur said.

He said multiple terror attacks in London last year had not affected Britain’s attitude towards Indians travelling there.

“These things happen. But the strength of India-UK relations ensure that they do not have a negative impact,” Arthur said.

Besides, more flights are going to be added to the existing 45 flights a week between India and Britain.

The officers of the visa department told reporters how a stringed verification regime was followed to weed out frauds and ensure that genuine applicants got their visas in 48 hours after applying with 11 Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) offices in the country.

A visa officer took out some fake wedding photographs to demonstrate desperate methods adopted by those wanting to migrate to Britain.

If an applicant is associated with the business express programme that has 200 companies on board, the visas can be granted in a day’s time.