Non settlement visas to Indian nationals visiting Britain have now breached the 90% mark, according to UK Visas and Immigration’s regional director Nick Crouch. In an exclusive interview to TOI’s Kounteya Sinha, he says that 9 out of 10 Indian nationals who apply for their UK visa are getting one.
The rising number of visas issued to Indians by UK clearly shows the increasing bond between the two countries. How many visas were issued recently and what has been the success rate?
In the year ending June 2013 we issued 387,943 non-settlement visas to Indian nationals at an issue rate of 89%. This included 309,956 visit visas. In the year ending June 2014 we issued 392,748 non-settlement visas to Indian nationals at an issue rate of 91%. This included 309,448 visit visas. In the year ending June 2015, we issued 442,644 non-settlement visas at an issue rate of 91%. This included 355, 686 visit visas.
India was the first country where the same day Super Priority Visa was introduced. How much does it cost compared to the general visa?
It costs £600 on top of the cost of the visa.
How many Super Priority Visas have been issued in India in 2013, 2014 and this year till now?
Since the service launched, in 2013, over 1,300 Super Priority Visas have been issued, and numbers show that in the first six months of this year the numbers issued were 68% up from the same period the year before.
Which city has the highest number of same day visas since 2013?
We have seen the highest number of SPV’s issued in Chennai, followed by Delhi and Mumbai.
How many student visas have been issued over the last three years – 2013 – 15? Has it been decreasing over the years?
Between 2013-2015 we have issued 39,818 Tier 4 student visas. While the numbers have decreased the refusal rates have also gone down, reflecting the fact that we are attracting better quality students to study at UK universities. In the year ending June 2014 the issue rate was 75% while in the year ending June 2015 it was 88%.
What are the other future plans around visas in India? Are you planning to simplify the process further?
UK Visas & Immigration is always looking at ways to improve the visa service and regularly take on feedback from the business and tourism sectors. This year we opened the new standalone Premium Lounge in Gurgaon in response to feedback from business stakeholders and we will continue to look for new locations to open visa application centres. We are currently trialling new chargeable services which include walk-in appointments, appointments for large groups and assistance for customers for filling in their application forms online. Again many of these services were suggested to us by travel agents keen to make it easier for their customers to apply for their UK visas.
What about visa rejections?
We do not hold data in this format. 9 out of 10 Indian nationals who apply for their UK visa get one.
Tourist visas. Have they been increasing over the years?
No, we welcome Indian visitors to the UK and there is no limit on numbers. There are no caps on student numbers and while there is a limit on work visas this is done by total numbers and is not nationality specific. All visa applicants must meet the UK immigration rules in order to be granted a visa.