For Selected Countries Visa Application Centres Reopen in India
Obeying the regulations of the Centre as well as the state governments and some embassies, VFS Global is perfectly set to receive visa applications for selected countries across some designated Indian cities.
The visa outsourcing and technology services providers going to resume operations for a few of its Visa Application Centres mainly in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Cochin and Hyderabad, Jalandhar and Kolkata for specific visa categories for the UK, Italy, Ireland, Denmark, Belarus, Norway, South Korea, Portugal, Dominican Republic, Turkey and UAE announced by Pranav Sinha, India Regional Head (West & South India, Maldives and Sri Lanka), VFS Global, at a digital conference held on Wednesday.
VFS Global has already resumed its services in 632 application centres in 80 countries for 51 client governments out of 3,390 application centres, in 144 countries for 64 client governments.
Amit Kumar Sharma, Regional Head (North and East India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Israel, Palestine and Nepal), at VFS Global joined the conference and answered some extensively asked questions by their clients regarding visa application services.
Following are some of the important questions:
Will Visa Application Centres (VACs) resume services once the lockdown is over?
Sharma: Our VACs can open only in case the local Embassy gives consent for the re-opening. VFS Global alone does not decide about the re-opening of a Visa Application Centre.
What about the passports accepted before services were stopped?
Sharma: we will assess the stage of evaluation of each application (i.e., whether it is still being evaluated at the Embassy/Consulate or has been sent to the VFS Global) and continue the passport return process. Passports which are with us, will be sent to the customers once VACs are reopened.
We will give full assurance to our customers that passports that were returned from the Embassy/Consulate before lockdown are in safe custody.
Is it essential to show medical history for visa applications now?
Sharma: VFS Global does not ask for a medical report for customers coming to our Centres, though medical certificates are often component of required documentation in some visa applications (may or may not be associated to COVID-19).
Government looking forward to introducing health screening measures, to make sure you have passed the updated document checklist for the country you are traveling, in case any medical and vaccination histories are necessary as part of your visa processing cycle.
Can I travel if I have a work or residency permit?
Sharma: If you already have a valid work or residence permit, your entry will depend on entrance restrictions of that country. For new applicants, entry will depend on the country you are applying for. Several countries have enforced place border control measures, temporarily prohibiting non-essential passengers from submitting visa applications. Kindly check in advance the rules and regulations of not only your government, but also of the country you are visiting.
What will happen to a valid visa if the country has restricted/banned travel?
Sharma: Passengers who are yet to travel and those whose existing visas have expired, or expiring soon, can apply for a visa again when operations resume.
What health and safety measures are executed at the centres?
Sharma: According to the guidelines specified by the World Health Organization, as well as local authorities, visitors and employees working at Visa Application Centres will undergo body temperature checks, also face masks and gloves are mandate – for their own safety and that of others too. Centres are also taking good preventive measures such as sanitizing high-contact surfaces, practicing social distancing, and frequently using hand sanitizers.
When services start again, can one avoid visiting Visa Application Centres, obeying social distancing norm?
Sharma: Once services start again, visitors who wish to avoid check-in public places can go for optional services, like the Visa at Your Doorstep service for application submission. Qualified VFS Global team will visit the customer’s site of choice (home, office, etc.) to complete the process of visa application submission. Also do the biometric enrolment if needed, while taking necessary preventive measures. In India, this service is offered for 18 destination countries, and will start again after lockdown, subject to consents from the concerned embassy/consulate.
Due to the worldwide pandemic of the novel coronavirus, India has suspended all e-Visas for citizens and tourist visas of other countries, although non-tourist visas issued by India remain valid.
India has taken strict actions to stop the spread of this virus. This involves proposing several travel restrictions on travellers entering the country.
All foreign nationals are currently prohibited from crossing India border due to the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of whether they have a tourist visa or not.
There are several exemptions to this rule. The following groups of travellers may enter India:
- Overseas Citizens of India with a card or booklet
- Children (students and minors) of Indian nationality and OCIs
- Spouses of Indian nationals
- Single parents of a minor having Indian citizenship
- Nationals of Bhutan and Nepal
- International travellers passing over India while returning home, except if through Delhi Airport
- Embassy and official passport holders
- Passengers who hold a Persons of Indian Origin card
- All foreigners entering India are obliged to hold a valid international travel document i.e. national passport with a valid visa from an Indian Mission/Post or e-Visa (Limited Categories) from Bureau of Immigration, Ministry of Home Affairs.
Can I Still Apply for My eVisa India to Visit India?
Under normal conditions, visitors from several countries were entitled for the electronic visa or Indian eVisa. This service is currently suspended. This means it is not possible to get the eVisa at present.
Foreigners are also restricted to visit India. There are a few exemptions to this rule, for diplomats or close family members of Indian nationals.
A section of nationalities can apply for a traditional consular visa at an embassy for India, for purposes other than tourism.
When Will I Be Able to Travel to India With My Indian eVisa?
It is quite difficult to say anything now about how long the India visa suspension and travel constraints will last for India. The covid-19 pandemic new cases are still there around the world and until the vaccination is done completely, international tourist travel is likely to continue with restrictions.
Once the number of corona cases in India start dropping, it is likely that the covid-19 travel restrictions will ease, and foreign travellers will be able to use their e-Visa to visit the country for tourism. Hopefully, everything will be normal soon and people again can make their travel plans freely.