UK introduces Visa4UK online visa application system
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.