London, May 28 : The Indian High Commission in the UK will outsource the visa application process from Thursday, bringing relief to nearly half a million Britons visiting India annually.
One of the largest diplomatic missions in the world, the decision by Gigh Commissioner Shiv Shankar Mukherjee to outsource the visa application process has been welcomed.
Mukherjee launched the visa application centre in Victoria, in the heart of London on Tuesday night.
Mukherjee said the new centre would have facilities for submitting applications online and payment by credit card.
The posh centre is one of the eight centres VFS Global, the private agency chosen for handling the work, planned to open in the UK, its Chief Operating Officer Sanjay Bhaduri said.
On an average, the High Commission issues 500,000 visas in a year and it is expected to go up by 20 per cent every year.
Zubin Karkaria, owner of VFS Global, said two Indian visa application centres would commence operation in the city on Thursday and one each in Edinburgh and Hayes in Middlesex on June 6.
"Ultimately we will have eight centres," Bhaduri said.
Established in 2001, VFS Global currently services diplomatic missions in 42 countries worldwide.
"The company, operating out of over 276 visa application centres located in Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, CIS and the Middle East, would process close to 6 million visas in 2008," Bhaduri said.