Our Successesful Campaigns UK Transit Visas New rules - NRI Alert (Dec 20, 2003)  

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Airport Transit Visas for UK (Briton), Germany, France (Updated links Jan 2005):

UK-British Transit Visas: This information is for the Indians traveling through the UK on their way to a third country. (This document is for informational purpose only. Please take all your decisions after talking to your travel agent and visiting the official website of UK government.)

"From 18 October 2003, certain nationals (including India and Pakistan) need visas to travel through the UK on their way to a third country."

The new rules have caused considerable amount of confusion to potential ?Direct Airside Transit Visa? (DATV) applicants and the airline personnel. After receiving few complaints, IndiaCause media contact, Vinod Negi, talked to the office of British Consulate General explaining the difficulties faced by the Indians requiring the transit visas. Patrick Owens, HM Consul and Director of US Visa Issuing Posts, responded with a call and a detailed email explaining the situation and useful tips to avoid the crush.

One of the concerns we received about the problems faced by the visa applicants at NY 

This is the email reply we received from Patrick Owens, HM Consul and Director of US Visa Issuing Posts, British Consulate General

Dear Vinod,  

I understand that you have received a number of complaints from visa applicants about the standard of services at our Visa Posts in the US - in particular New York. I am obviously concerned about this and regret any difficulties that people may have experienced. I am grateful to you for bringing these issues to my attention and for allowing me the opportunity to explain the background to the upsurge in demand following the introduction of a new Direct Airside Transit Visas (DATVs) regime and the reasons why Visa Sections are under pressure, and to offer your members what I hope will be useful tips to avoid the crush. 

Let me begin by saying that new visa regimes are invariably by their very nature implemented with little or no warning. The recent decision to introduce certain nationalities (including nationals of India and Pakistan) to the DATV scheme, was no exception. As a result visa issuing posts are normally given very little opportunity to make the necessary preparations to cater for the increase in demand. On this occasion however, the British Government did try to help by introducing a number of exemptions to the rules which had previously applied to DATV nationals (e.g. holders of the new Green Card and valid US visas). Unfortunately while this might have kept numbers down it did cause a considerable amount of confusion to potential DATV applicants and airline personnel. Despite our best efforts it would appear that it took quite a while for all those involved to become totally familiar with the new rules and I am sorry that this may have caused a number of passengers to be inconvenienced. I hope that the situation has now been resolved somewhat and that people are beginning to get the correct information. 

Turning to the situation at the Visa Sections, it is one of our key objectives to offer a same-day service to all straightforward applications made in person between 9.00 and 12.00 Monday to Friday. In effect this can mean a wait of just one hour once the application has been submitted. Despite the significant increase this year in the number of applications received in the three US visa issuing posts - 34% nation-wide; 54% in Chicago and 37% in New York - we continue to maintain that philosophy (unique, I believe for any other comparable foreign visa issuing services in the US). The trouble is that when our visa sections were originally established in their existing sites, the numbers of applicants being seen on a daily basis was less than half than it is now. Being acutely aware of the needs of our customers and the conditions being imposed on them, we have over the years made significant improvements to our properties to try and cater for the increased demand (we are in fact about to start major new works aimed at increasing the size of the Reception and waiting area in New York in the New Year), but we will always simply be catching up. 

Recognising this, and knowing that many applicants live considerable distances from the Visa Posts, we have instead attempted to steer applicants towards our new electronic application process which includes the facility to pay on line. Since we began this service nearly two years ago, we have seen the number of postal applications received climb to just over 50% (roughly 40,000 a year) of the total number of applications received in the US. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to urge your members to consider using this service (which I must add does still entail the applicant sending their passport and supporting documents to the Visa Post) in order to avoid having to making the application in person. Depending on the circumstances pertaining at the time, we aim to complete the whole process (provided the application is in good order) in up to 5 working days. The application process and full explanatory notes can be found at our website www.britainusa.com/visas/visas.asp

I realise that at least in the short term there will continue to be pressure put on our Visa Posts and our customers are still likely to see crowded waiting rooms. Because of this we have, in Chicago and New York especially, tried to restrict the numbers of people entering the Sections to the main applicant only, and recommended that those others who may have accompanied the applicant to wait in a local cafe or restaurant (of which there are several in the neighbourhoods of both Visa Posts). We certainly do not expect people to have to wait outside the buildings. 

Please be assured that we are always striving to try and improve our service and looking for ways to be more efficient to the benefit of our customers (a good example here might be the decision to authorise Visa Officers to give the majority of applicants DATVs valid for 5 years for the same price as a 6 month visa).  

To that end I am always happy to receive comments and criticism (hopefully constructive!) from applicants. These can be sent to me either by email (webmaster@britainusa.com) or by post to the address below.

Yours ever,

Patrick Owens
HM Consul and Director of US Visa Issuing Posts
British Consulate General
845 Third Avenue
New York 10019

Tel: 1 212 745 0291
Fax: 1 212 754 3062


Please visit the following pages for more details:

Visas for the UK



UK-British Transit Visas - New rules

Related News (Oct 2003):

Indians need transit visas to travel through UK EcoTimes

U.K. introduces transit visa for Indian nationals Hindu

New visa requirements for travelers to UK Nation


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