Concerns raised over mandatory fingerprinting for India visas

Concerns raised over mandatory fingerprinting for India visas

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Abta has voiced concern over new requirements for British travellers to India to appear at an application centre to be fingerprinted to obtain a visa.

The trade fears the biometric testing is an extra hurdle that will deter potential visitors.

Visa applicants will first have to book individual appointments at one of 14 new centres online from March 14. The extra centres will be in cities including Cardiff, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool and Belfast.

The High Commission of India states on its website that, after outsourcing the process to a company called VFS, all applicants will need to be physically present at India Visa and Consular Services centres to submit an application and biometric data.

It says: “Biometric data collection, including fingerprint data and facial imagery will be a mandatory requirement for all visa applicants soon. As a result, all visa applicants will need to first apply online and, thereafter, be physically present (mandatorily) at India Visa and Consular Services centres, by appointment, for submission of visa application and biometric data enrolment.”

But Abta is making an official complaint over the changes.

Head of destinations and sustainability Nikki White told the Telegraph: “We are writing to the Indian High Commission expressing our concern about the short notice given concerning this change to visa requirements, requesting that they either reconsider or delay its introduction.

“We are also expressing our concerns about the requirement for individual family members to book separate appointments which could cause considerable unnecessary inconvenience and have the unintended consequence of discouraging travel to India.”

An Aito spokesman said the requirement to visit application centres assumes that busy people can take time off work for a day, and that the change could not have come at a worse time, as most operators have been reporting a fall in bookings to India.

“In recent months, due to a combination of circumstances – not least the publicity over several rape incidents – the country has become a difficult destination to sell,” he said. “This latest move will only exacerbate the situation".

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