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July 2007  
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Home - Market - Article


UK introduces Visa4UK online visa application system

Neeti Mehra - Beijing

Photo credit: Annette Melvin

The UK government has introduced its own online visa application programme Visa4UK (Visa4UK.fco.gov.uk) through its website UKvisas (UKvisas.gov.uk) for the Indian market in place of the VFS website application service, which had been suspended due to a reported security breach.

Revealing this information to Express TravelWorld was Jo Cheeseborough, its head of communications. She said, "We have rolled-out our online system through the UKvisas site which will manage online applications from the Indian traveller. However, our commercial partner will continue to be VFS, which will be responsible for collecting biometric data when we implement the system in India later this year."

Through the newly introduced online application system, applying for a UK visa will enable an applicant to book appointments online as well as make payments online. Online applications are given a priority as opposed to hand-written applications. In India, only 12 per cent of visa applications for the UK are made online, according to Cheeseborough.

Till this online application facility was introduced in India, all online visa applications had been through the VFS website application service. The reported breach had affected online application systems in India, Russia and Nigeria. According to an official statement, investigations regarding the alleged breach are underway by an independent investigator and the outcome of the findings will be made public by mid-July. The statement also said that the VFS system was not connected to any UK government information system or website and that no government website had been compromised. Biometrics will be introduced into the Indian market by November this year, according to Cheeseborough. The biometric programme has been rolled out to 75 of Britain's 162 visa sections worldwide and the global roll-out programme is due to be completed by spring 2008. It will involve 10 finger scans and a digital photograph of all visa applicants. Exceptions will be made for certain categories of applicants including children below the age of five and heads of state. Applicants will need to get a biometric scan of their hands every 10 years.


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