Britain’s same day Super Priority Visa (SPV) – that costs a whopping Rs 60,000 or £600 on top of the cost of the visa, has become a major hit among India’s business community.
In an exclusive interview to TOI, UK Visas and Immigration’s regional director Nick Crouch said that since the service launched in 2013, over 1,300 SPVs have been issued to Indians.
Latest numbers also show that in the first six months of this year, the numbers issued were 68% up from the same period the year before.
According to Nick Crouch, Chennai beat Delhi and Mumbai when it comes to successfully applying for the SPV.
India was the first country in the world where Britain launched the SPVs in 2013. It was announced by British prime minister David Cameron during his last visit to India under which visas would be available within 24 hour. It was first introduced in Delhi and Mumbai after which Chennai rolled it out.
After India, it has since been rolled out in China, Brazil, Turkey, UAE and South Africa.
Crouch said “We are always looking at ways to improve the visa service and regularly take on feedback from the business and tourism sectors. This year we opened the new standalone Premium Lounge in Gurgaon in response to feedback from business stakeholders and we will continue to look for new locations to open visa application centres”.
“We are currently trialling new chargeable services which include walk-in appointments, appointments for large groups and assistance for customers for filling in their application forms online. Again many of these services were suggested to us by travel agents keen to make it easier for their customers to apply for their UK visas. Around 9 out of 10 Indian nationals who apply for their UK visa get one,” Crouch added.
The general cost of a business visa for a short-term (up to 6 months, single or multiple entry) costs Rs 6650. A long term visa valid for up to 5 years costs Rs 42,200 while that for 10 years cost Rs 60900.
Over the past five years, on an average, 70,000 business visas have been issued per year to Indians.
Officials say the issue rate has been high with “almost all Indians who apply for a UK business visa get one.”
In 2012 for instance, 67,400 business visas were issued of the 69,600 applications received – an approval rate of 97%.
India remains the UK’s biggest visa operation in the world, processing around 400,000 applications each year.
The Home Office says the vast majority of applications – over 97% of UK business visit visas and 86% per cent of visit visas – are approved and UKBA processes 95% of applications within 15 working days.
The then immigration minister Mark Harper said “India and Britain have a long history of trade and we run our largest visa operation in the world there. We are delighted to be able to launch our first same day visa service in Delhi and Mumbai, and make our world class visa service even better.”
UK home office added that the service would be available to those who were applying for a six-month or two year multiple entry visitor visa (excluding student visit visas) and have travelled without difficulty in the last five years to one of the following countries – UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada or a Schengen country.
Those who are employees of companies that are members of the Business Express Programme (managed by UK Trade and Investment in India) and are travelling as an official business visitor would also be able to apply.