Indians planning to visit the UK in 2018 are being urged to get their visa applications in early as part of a new government drive.
The #BEATthepeak campaign is being spearheaded by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) with the aim of encouraging Indian visitors to make use of Britain’s post-dated visa facility.
The service allows travellers to apply up to three months in advance of their journey and still benefit from a full six-month visa.
For example, anyone planning to travel in April can apply for a visa this month without having to worry about losing out. According to UKVI, early-bird applicants will benefit from quieter Visa Application Centres and more available appointment slots outside of the peak period.
“…they can expect a quicker visa process” – Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG
This year’s campaign was launched by the British High Commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG. It forms part of a series of activities led by the UK High Commission designed to promote Britain and encourage early visa applications.
Sir Dominic said: “2017 was a record breaking year for the UK-India relationship, with more Indians travelling to the UK than ever before. In the year ending September 2017 well over half a million visas were issued to Indian nationals and visit visas alone were up by 11% year-on-year.
“That is great news for both our countries. We know hundreds of thousands of Indians will travel again in 2018 – and they can expect a quicker visa process if they apply up to three months early and beat the summer peak in April and May.”
UKVI said plans are also in place to improve the visa application process during 2018. New online forms and technology will be used “to make the experience smoother, easier and more customer-friendly”.
India has more UK Visa Application Centres than any other country. Last November Britain’s immigration minister Brandon Lewis opened a new site in Bengaluru, taking the country’s tally to 18.
UKVI has also committed to extending the Registered Traveller Service to Indian nationals – an optional membership scheme that provides expedited crossing through the UK border. Registered Travellers can use EEA entry lanes, or if they hold an electronic passport, the ePassport gates, and won’t need to routinely fill in a landing card.
Tricia Warwick, VisitBritain’s interim director for Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, wants Indian travellers to see the UK as a ‘must-go-now’ destination.
She said: “Making it easy to travel here is an important part of our tourism offer. With our hotels, attractions and shops, all offering great value for Indian visitors right now, it is a great time to come to Britain.”
Main image: Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0