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Relief For The Rajasthan-Bound

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 105 months ago
Relief For The Rajasthan-Bound
India High Commission

The little slice of subcontinental bureaucracy that is the Indian High Commission in Aldwych may soon bring to an end its long history of enraging and befuddling tourists. According to this report out of India, the High Commission will shortly bid "a cheery farewell to snaking queues, complaints of graft and grumpy customers" as it modernises its procedures.

The visa issuing process has been outsourced to VFS Global, an outfit based, naturally, India, which has experience in these matters. In the future British visitors to the country will be able to apply online and obtain their visa without even going to the office. The whole process will be monitored on the Internet, with each application tracked at every stage- a step forward from the current system where a bespectacled gent of advanced years juggles documents by the dozen and takes an unnervingly haphazard approach to reuniting visa-stamped passports with travellers.

Along with shuffling the visa system into the 21st century, VFS Global are also set to open two more central London offices - to ease the burden on the Aldwych office, by some distance the busiest Indian High Commission in the world - and another in Southall.

While anybody who's spent the better part of a day sitting in confusion and tedium wondering if that two week break in Kerala is really worth the effort will rejoice, the local cafes and coffee shops responsible for keeping an irate, barely-moving line fed and watered are likely to be less enamoured by the news.

Organised chaos at the Commission courtesy of markhillary's Flickrstream

Last Updated 28 May 2008

JoJo

Oh, Max Gogarty will be delighted to hear this news, I am sure, after his utterly harrowing experience of visa-queuing. If only these reforms had been in place before dearest Maxie set off.

If anyone knows how he's getting on, by the way, do please tell! I am dying to hear more of the Travels and Adventures of Young Gogarty amid the Snakes, Dusty Roads and Australian-Infested Hostels of India and Thailand.

Lindsey

I've never been to India but have had the dubious pleasure of obtaining visas for other people on 2 occasions... both of which took approximately 4 hours from arrival to successful departure with much resigned amusement throughout. Farewell, utterly bewildering queues, outside and inside, and bye bye Visa Pick Up Bingo.

Also, it really does look cool!

Francine Kizner

I now have some personal experience with this one, as I'm planning to go to India in July. I tried to submit an application on the site, but had some trouble with it as an American/Canadian citizen who has been here less than a year, so I went in person to submit my forms.

I arrived at 8:30 when the office opened, and there wasn't a terribly long line. I didn't have an appointment, though, so I took my number and sat and read for an hour and a half before it was called. The room was pleasant enough, though, and there were plenty of chairs.

Then I ran into some bureaucratic trouble -- apparently you need to have a UK visa in your passport to get the India tourism visa. I have one, but my partner doesn't -- he only has a work permit since he's only on a six-month assignment here. Even though he's here perfectly legally, they refused to process his visa request. We can't get it done in the US, as we're not there, and they also outsource and say you must apply from wherever you currently are, so we're going to try our luck when we're in Cairo and hope the High Council there will grant us a visa. Though we emailed them and explain our situation and they just directed us back to the UK office.

Sigh.