More visa centres in Britain: Keith Vaz

October 4th, 2008 - 11:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 4 (IANS) Indian-origin British MP Keith Vaz Saturday appealed to the Indian government to open more visa centres across Britain for the benefit of the ethnic Indian community.“I want to make a plea for India to have more visa centres,” Vaz, Labour MP from Leicester East, told reporters here.

South Asians comprise 49.1 percent of Vaz’s constituency. “People of South Asian origin are expected to become the majority by 2010,” he said.

If opening more visa centres was not possible, he suggested that community organisers should be “empowered” to collect and run a visa application centre.

The Indian High Commission in Britain has outsourced the visa application process to a private company, VFS Global.

Vaz said that a pilot project had been initiated in his constituency three weeks ago to set up an Indian visa application centre.

Under the project, VFS Global officials had conducted training for the centre, funded by the local council, to help applicants fill in their online applications.

While he described the outsourcing of visas as a “very valiant effort”, Vaz said there were “some teething problems”.

“At the same time, people have to realise that unless there is an emergency, applications should be made in advance. I think that they (VFS Global) were too ambitious to say that it will take only three days to process. A seven-day period for getting visa is fine,” he said.

He added that he was planning to apply for either a PIO (person of Indian origian) or OCI (overseas citizen of India) card next year. “My five-year visa is ending next year. So, I will be seriously looking at my options,” he said.

Vaz, a frequent visitor to India, will visit the country again this month, when he accompanies an under-14 team from a football club in Leicester to Goa.

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