Indian missions in UAE outsource passport, visa services

April 6th, 2008 - 8:46 pm ICT by admin  

Dubai, April 6 (IANS) The Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi and the consulate in Dubai have become the first Indian missions in the Gulf to outsource the process of collecting passport and visa applications and distributing them. An agreement to this effect was signed here Sunday between Talmiz Ahmad, India’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Sultan A. Al Midfa, chief executive of Empost, the UAE’s leading courier, cargo and logistics company.

“For the first time in the course of our diplomatic ties, we have taken a different approach to discharging our consular activities,” Ahmad said at the signing ceremony.

“Everyday, several thousand people - Indians and foreigners - visit our embassy and consulate (in the UAE) to submit applications for passports and visas,” he said.

“Since we do not have enough staff to deal with such huge numbers, we have decided that, in partnership with Empost, we will have 12 dedicated centres in the UAE for receiving applications for passports and visas and distributing these documents.”

At present, the Indian embassy and the consulate together issue about 200,000 passport services and 63,000 visas annually.

Over 4,000 people visit the missions every day to seek these services.

Of around 1.5 million expatriate Indians in the UAE, 700,000 are in Dubai and around 300,000 each in the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

According to the new agreement, which will come into effect two months from now, people seeking these services can have greater flexibility of time as these centres will operate from 7.30 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

As of now, the missions offer these services five days a week from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The ambassador said the new agreement would not exclude Indian associations in this Gulf nation who have been helping the missions in discharging these services.

“We have built up a dedicated system for these services and a website would also be set up to provide information on various services offered and enable online submission of applications and checking of the status of applications,” Al Midfa said.

A call centre would be set up to answer telephone queries and inform applicants of the status of their applications, he added.

The collection centres as well as the call centre will be manned by people familiar with various Indian languages.

Applicants will have the choice of either receiving their documents by courier or collect these personally from the collection centres.

Though Indian missions in some other countries have outsourced the collection of visa applications, this is the first time the process of collecting passport applications has been outsourced by any Indian mission.

“Our missions in countries like South Korea and Canada have outsourced the process of collecting visa applications, but yes, this is the first time that an Indian mission has outsourced the process of collecting passport applications,” India’s consulate general in Dubai told IANS.

According to the agreement, Empost will charge a service fee of 12 dirhams ($3.3) for each passport service and 50 dirhams ($13.6) for each visa service.

Attestation of various documents will, however, continue to be done at the missions.

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