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UK launches campaign to encourage Indians to apply visa early

Indian travellers can now request for their visas to be post-dated by up to 3 months

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

A British flag flutters in front of a window in London
A British flag flutters in front of a window in London

The UK on Thursday launched a new campaign to encourage Indian visitors to apply early for their visas in the quieter, off-peak period of January and February, the British High Commission said.

Visa applicants can expect to get a visa decision more quickly outside the peak period, and benefit from quieter Visa Application Centres and more available appointment slots, the British High Commission said in a statement.

Indian travellers can now request for their visas to be post-dated by up to three months, so the visa starts on their intended travel date.

Those planning to travel in April can apply for their visas now and the six-month validity can start on their intended departure date, the statement clarified.

British High Commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith, said: "We are delighted that more and more Indians are choosing to come to the UK either on holiday or for business. The latest visa statistics show that visitor visas issued have increased by 6 per cent in the year ending September 2016 and last year we issued more Indian visit visas than ever before," the statement said.

"There has never been a better time to visit the UK - 2017 is the Year of Culture, which will see an exciting festival of events celebrating the vibrant cultural history of UK and India held in both countries. By making it easier for visitors to apply for their visas early, we hope that even more Indians will choose to come to visit the UK to see our world class heritage sites, enjoy our beautiful countryside and experience the vibrancy of our cities," he said.

The initiative was officially announced at the Destination Britain India, currently being held in Pune and hosted by the UK's national tourism agency VisitBritain.

The three-day tourism trade fair brings together more than 75 travel agents from across India and more than 20 UK travel suppliers for three days of networking and business appointments, the statement said.

VisitBritain Director for Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa Sumathi Ramanathan said: "We want the UK to be a 'must-go-now' destination for visitors from India.Making it easy to travel here is an important part of our tourism offer."

The British High Commission has claimed that it continues to make improvements to its visa service in the country. Last year a new online visit visa application form was introduced in India.

The new form is described as "quicker and more intuitive" and it has been translated into four Indian languages to make it easier for Indian customers to apply.

The eligibility for visitors using the same-day Super Priority Visa and three to five day Priority Visa has been expanded so that now all first-time visitors can use the service, regardless of whether they have travelled before.

India will also become the first visa country to benefit from the Registered Traveller Service, as announced by British Prime Minister Theresa May.

The premium service allows approved members, who have undergone advanced security checks, expedited entry at the UK border.

First Published: Thu, January 12 2017. 22:23 IST