Biometrics, online appointments to be required for visas, consular services

23 Feb 15

UNITED KINGDOM, INDIA

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? The High Commission of India in London has announced that it will require biometric data capture for visas and other consular services beginning in March.

What does the change mean? Anyone applying for Indian visas or other consular services in the U.K. will be required to book appointments online before submitting applications and appearing in person to have biometrics taken. Once the change is implemented, applicants showing up at visa centers without an appointment may be turned away.

  • Implementation timeframe: The changes will be implemented in March. Exact dates are not yet confirmed.
  • Visas/permits affected: Indian visas, passports, OCI cards and other consular services.
  • Who is affected: Anyone needing any of the above services.
  • Impact on processing times: Indian authorities are hoping that the online appointment system will save time in the application process. However, it is possible that applicants will experience delays as the program is implemented.
  • Next Steps: BAL will continue to monitor the rollout of the biometrics program and will provide updates accordingly.

Background: The changes are part of India’s Immigration, Visa and Foreigners’ Registration and Tracking (IVFRT) program. As part of the program, India will make biometric data collection (fingerprint data and facial imagery) mandatory for all visa applicants. Mandatory biometrics have already been implemented in Australia, Malaysia and the Netherlands, among other countries.

In the U.K., the program will be launched at 14 visa centers, including three in London, in March. Once the program is operating, walk-in appointments will not be accepted. Exceptions will be made for medical emergencies, however. Diplomatic and official passport holders traveling on official business are also exempt and should submit their applications directly at the High Commission of India in London or the Consulates General of India in Birmingham and Edinburgh.

BAL Analysis: Once the mandatory biometrics program is implemented, applicants will be required first to apply online and then appear in person, by appointment, at a visa center. Walk-ins may be turned away. BAL will provide more information about the rollout when dates can be confirmed. Contact your BAL representative if you have questions about the program.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@balglobal.com.

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