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Wednesday, Jun 05, 2002

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Visa processing hit at foreign missions

Our Bureau

CHENNAI, June 4

REDUCED staff at the certain foreign missions in New Delhi and Mumbai is affecting visa processing. This reduction in staff follows the May 31 travel advisory about the heightened tensions between India and Pakistan.

The visa office at the Australian High Commission in Mumbai is closed to the public until further notice. According to a press release, no new visa applications - by mail or in person - can be lodged there, all enquiries should be directed to the Australian High Commission in New Delhi.

From June 3 onwards, until further notice the Australian visa office in New Delhi will have limited visa operations only. Applications for student visa will be receipted and sent by courier for processing to the visa office in the Australian Embassy in Bangkok.

Applications for general tourist and business visas will not be accepted after close of business on June 4. Indian residents who require a visa can lodge an application at any Australian Government visa office outside India and are encouraged to lodge their applications with the Australian Embassy Bangkok or the High Commission in Colombo.

Where possible the office will continue to accept application of an emergency and or urgent nature but priority will be given to applicants with close family links to Australia.

The web site is www.ausgovindia.com.

A press release from the British High Commission states that until further notice it will accept visa applications from those qualifying under the non-present (drop box) criteria . The drop box facility is the UK's non-present application service, which does not require applicants to lodge applications in person. This facility is available to those who have travelled to the UK in the last 10 years, and those who have travelled to the US, Australia, New Zealand. Canada, Switzerland or Schengen countries within the last five years, and have evidence of this travel. Applications should be accompanied by full documentary evidence of applicant's circumstances in India; evidence that the visit is affordable; an invitation from the sponsor; and any other relevant information.

The other eligible for drop box facility are diplomats in the Indian Foreign Service or officers of the Indian Administrative Service, diplomats serving in a diplomatic mission in India and the spouse or children (under 18) of one of a person who meets one of the above criteria, and is travelling with them. Students sponsored by the British Council or a life member of the Association of British Scholars can also avail of the drop box facility.

Further information is available via the visa department telephone helpline 011 4100017. The web site address is www.ukiinndia.com.

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