Britain is all set to introduce biometric visas for Indians travelling to the United Kingdom later this year. Biometric visas will be universal, across the world and will cover every category of visa, Britain’s outgoing High Commissioner Michael Arthur told the Hindustan Times on Monday.
In an interview, Sir Michael, who is moving on as Britain’s envoy to Germany after a four-year-stint in New Delhi, promised that getting the new biometric visa would be a painless procedure.
Go get it
Already, this “safe document” has been introduced in British missions in as many as 80 countries. “What will happen is that you’ll have to go to the visa office and just have your fingerprints and photographs taken. A very quick, five-minute procedure. And once you’ve got that, especially for the regular visitor, we will encourage you to go for a longer period visa: one year, five years and, in exceptional cases, up to 10 years,” he stated.
And, there’s an incentive to get a longer-term visa. “We are making the same price of the visa for one, five or 10 years. So, there’s an incentive to go for at least a five-year visa,” Sir Michael said.
India, he pointed out, was, by a long way, Britain’s biggest partner country for visas. “We give from the High Commission here about 1,400 visas every working day. A fifth of the international demand for visas is Indian.”
In 2006, British missions in India issued about 3,66,000 visas. Currently, about one million Indians are in the UK. “This is just a huge scale of operation because there is so much flow of people…” Sir Michael stressed.
Three British missions – New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai – rank among the top five countries that issue visas, he revealed. Sir Michael, who leaves behind many friends in India, said the new visa system will be a big plus for everybody because it’s going to be a guarantee of personal identity.
“Because for a good, bona fide Indian ‘customer’… we want to make it as easy as possible.”
Biometric visas will also mean that the actual entry procedure for Indians going to the UK becomes smoother.