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Applying for a UK visa?

Shobha Warrier | March 20, 2006

According to Mike Connor, British deputy high commissioner in southern India, the British Deputy High Commission in Chennai is the sixth largest UK visa issuing post in the world. This Commission processes visa applications from all the four south Indian states

Visa applications from south India rose by almost 15% in 2005 across all categories -- business, tourism, students and visits to family.

The British High Commission has come out with new ways to help applicants in south India get their UK visas.

Where to apply

You can apply at the four Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) offices in south India. These VFS offices are located at Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Cochin. Visa applications from all the centres will then be couriered to Chennai, the visa issuing post in south India.

The visa fee

The visa fee is category-specific. For instance, a six month visit visa costs Rs 4,000, but the VFS processing fee is fixed at Rs 445. The British High Commission specifically says that if you are in doubt, take advice from VFS or by logging onto

When should you apply?

Though the process of issuing straightforward visas usually takes only 48 hours, the High Commission recommends you apply at least two weeks in advance of travel. March to June are the busiest months of the year for the Commission.

Changes in the immigration rules

The UK has, with effect from February 2006, made a change to immigration rules for children under 18 years of age who wishes to travel to the UK.

What is the change?

From now on, all people under the age of 18 must show

~ They have a parent or guardian who is responsible for their care in the UK and their home country.

~ Their parent or guardian consents to their travelling.

~ They have suitable travel, reception and care arrangements concerning their travel to the UK.

~ They must travel in the company of the adult identified on the visa. Two parents can be named on the child's visa by using their passport numbers.

But the High Commission insists the application process has not changed. The only change is that there is a new visa application form (still called VAFI).

The visa will only be valid for the holder if s/he is travelling within the dates specified on the visa, and with the adult(s) on the visa.

Points-based system

The British government, as a part of their five-year strategy for asylum and immigration, has introduced a new points-based system to enable the UK to control migration more effectively, tackle abuse and identify the most talented workers.

Under this, there are five tiers:

Tier 1: Highly skilled persons like scientists, entrepreneurs, etc.

Tier 2: Skilled workers with a job offer like nurses, teachers, engineers, etc.

Tier 3: Low skilled workers filling specific temporary labour shortages like construction workers, etc.

Tier 4: Students.

Tier 5: Youth mobility and temporary workers like working holiday makers (those who go there to see the place and then do temporary work as well) or musicians going to play a concert.

The system aims to ensure that only those migrants who benefit the UK can go to work and study, like highly skilled surgeons or scientists or those who are going to fill gaps in the labour market that cannot be met from the domestic workforce, such as teachers and nurses.

~ Check your visa status on your cell phone

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