The recent common practice with many of the London based embassies is to follow the lead of many overseas missions and outsource the visa consular section to third part organisations.
There are many positive aspects to outsourcing for the Embassies
- They do not have to accommodate hundreds of visa applicants directly their premises each day, thus greatly removing many security risks and consequently reducing operational costs.
- They can concentrate on the task of processing the application in a purely objective manner based on the supplied documents.
- The application forms, passports and supporting documentation are pre vetted by the outsourced operator so they only have to process neatly compiled fully compliant applications.
- By making the outsourced operator pay for premises and costly equipment such as appointment scheduling software and Biometric enrolment hardware the Embassies make huge savings.
The tangible benefits to the prospective visa applicant are that there are better accommodating waiting rooms (though not necessarily reduced waiting times). Gone are the days of hundreds of people queuing in the rain outside the Indian High Commission at 7am or outside French Embassy.
All of this comes at a cost to the applicant though, while the Embassies’ visa processing overheads have been reduced, the Visa fees that they charge have not and additional visa centre fees are usually imposed on the applicant. Applications that do not fit the objective tests are often rejected without being given the chance to be viewed or assessed at the discretion of the Embassy. Applications are sometimes rejected by the visa centres because some of their operatives have insufficient training in or understanding of some complex scenarios. Many Embassies used to process visa applications on site on the same day – now the minimum processing time tends to be at least three days because the passports (and often sensitive supporting documents) have to be ferried to the embassy for processing and then back to the visa centre. The use of third party visa centres also heightens the risk of personal data/information being compromised or stolen.
Another negative impact that outsourced visa centres have had is a reduction of visa agencies. Many of the centres insist on the actual applicant attending to submit their applications, they do not permit applications to be filed by proxy. This can be an inconvenience to people not being in the position to take time out of their busy schedules to visa application. The banning of visa agencies has caused many agencies to go out of business or reduce their staffing levels – Something that has not as yet been brought to the attention of the Enterprise Act’s Competition Commission.
London Embassy & Consulate Addresses:
French Consulate General:
58 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7JT
visa information >> Click here
20 Draycott Place, London SW3 2RZ
14 Three Kings Yard, London, Greater London W1K 4EH
Indian High Commission:
India House, Aldwych – London WC2B 4NA
Peoples Republic Of China Embassy:
31 Portland Place, London W1B 1QD