UK launches 'super-priority' visas for Indians
The Super Priority Visa Service had been announced by British Prime Minister David Cameron during his visit to the country in February this year.
The first-of-of-its-kind service to be launched anywhere in the world by the UK Home Office is open for appointment bookings in India from today.
"I am delighted to see the Super Priority Visa service being launched in India before any other country," said Sir James Bevan, the British High Commissioner to India.
"For the first time, Indian visitors will now have the option of a same-day visa to the UK. This underlines our strong commitment to make an already excellent visa service even better. We expect this new service to be particularly useful for business," he said, adding that it will cater to those who need to travel on very short notice.
"Opportunities arise at short notice. We want Indian entrepreneurs and businessmen to be able to seize these. The UK and India are already on course to double bilateral trade by 2015. The new Super Priority Visa will help make sure that we hit this target," he added.
The Super Priority Visa is an optional service, which incurs an additional fee of 600 pounds besides the standard fee for the type of visa being applied for.
Applicants are required to complete an online form and submit their applications, by appointment, before 9:30 am. If an application is successful, the visa will be ready for collection by 5.30 pm the same day in New Delhi or by 6.30 pm the same day in Mumbai.
It complements the UK's existing Fast Track Service and the recently announced online payment option.
The new service is available to customers applying for a six-month or two-year multiple entry visit visa (excluding student visitors) who have previously travelled to the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada or a Schengen country within the last five years.
It is also available to visa applicants sponsored by companies who are members of the UK's Business Express Programme.
"We are committed to making the UK an attractive place to visit and a destination for the brightest and best to work and do business. That's why we've launched this new service, to provide our valued customers from India with the choices to fit their particular circumstances and needs," immigration minister Mark Harper said.
"The UK and India have always had close commercial ties and I am determined to ensure that we continue to build stronger links in the future," Harper said.
India is the UK's biggest visa operation in the world, processing around 400,000 applications each year and the government claims that the vast majority of applications over 97 per cent of UK business visit visas and 86 per cent of visit visas are approved.
The latest service does not replace the process for expediting visas on compassionate grounds.