New Australian and UK visa ap­pli­ca­tion cen­tre in Bhutan

Bhutan Times - - Home - Deki Lha­zom

The Australian Am­bas­sador to Bhutan, Harinder Sidhu and the Hon­orary Con­sul for UK in Bhutan, Michael Rut­land, OBE, for­mally opened the new joint visa ap­pli­ca­tion cen­tre in Thim­phu last Thurs­day.

Un­like past years, peo­ple will not have to take trou­ble of lodg­ing their ap­pli­ca­tions in In­dia. The visa ap­pli­ca­tion cen­tre (VAC) is be­lieved to en­able Bhutanese na­tion­als to ap­ply for ei­ther their Australian or UK visa in Thim­phu.

Ms Sidhu, the Australian Am­bas­sador to Bhutan said that the new cen­tre would help im­prove ac­cess for ap­pli­cants from Bhutan seek­ing to visit Aus­tralia for study, work or for leisure. She also shared that Bhutan and Aus­tralia have shared a long friend­ship and that she is happy to make a ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion by as­sist­ing Bhutan’s de­vel­op­ment over many years. “Ed­u­ca­tion is the back­bone of this con­nec­tion,’’ she said.

‘’We wel­come many Bhutanese stu­dents to Aus­tralia, who re­turn to make an im­por­tant and in­flu­en­tial con­tri­bu­tion to their home­land. This new fa­cil­ity will help stream­line the visa process for those stu­dents and oth­ers plan­ning to visit Aus­tralia,’’ added Ms. Sidhu.

“The an­nounce­ment for open­ing the cen­tre was first made dur­ing the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge to Bhutan last month,” said the Bri­tish High Com­mis­sioner to In­dia, Sir Do­minic Asquith KCMG. He said that the new cen­tre will make it eas­ier for Bhutanese to get their visas and will en­cour­age more vis­i­tors to go to the UK.

‘’We are par­tic­u­larly de­lighted that this visa ap­pli­ca­tion cen­tre opens just after the visit of Their Royal High­nesses the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge, an im­mensely suc­cess­ful visit which still goes firmer to ce­ment the close friend­ship be­tween United King­dom and Bhutan,’’ said Mr. Michael Rut­land, OBE.

He said that the joint ven­ture will pro­duce a re­sult which will be enor­mous to Bhutanese go­ing to UK and Aus­tralia. He shared the United King­dom couldn’t or­ga­nize the open­ing of the cen­tre by it­self be­cause of less num­bers. He said that the part­ner­ship with Aus­tralia is what has made it hap­pen.

Ac­cord­ing to the press re­lease, the UK process will not be al­tered as a re­sult of this new ser­vice and ap­pli­cants will con­tinue to ap­ply for their visa and book their visa ap­point­ment via the visa4uk web­site. How­ever, there will be an ex­tra charge to use this user-pay VAC which is 54 pound on top of the cost of the visa. This charge, along with the visa fee will need to be paid for when the ap­pli­ca­tion is sub­mit­ted on­line.

All visa de­ci­sions ac­cord­ing to the cen­tre will be made in Delhi and will be pro­cessed within UKVI’s global 15 work­ing day ser­vice stan­dard. Cus­tomers need­ing a UK visa ur­gently will still be able to ap­ply for them in Kolkata or Delhi and use the pri­or­ity or su­per pri­or­ity visa ser­vices if el­i­gi­ble.

Like­wise, Australian Visa will con­tinue to be pro­cessed in In­dia. Bio­met­ric data will also be col­lected by the AVAC through a quick, dis­creet and a non-in­tru­sive process that cap­tures a fa­cial im­age and a 10digit fin­ger­print scan on a dry scan­ner ma­chine. Visa ap­pli­cants who mail their ap­pli­ca­tions to the Australian High Com­mis- sion in New Delhi or to the AVAC in Thim­phu, or who sub­mit their ap­pli­ca­tion on­line will be sent a let­ter re­quir­ing them to at­tend the AVAC in per­son, to pro­vide their bio­met­rics. Bio­met­rics will be col­lected from visa ap­pli­cants, ir­re­spec­tive of their na­tion­al­ity, who are in Bhutan at the time of mak­ing a visa ap­pli­ca­tion to en­ter Aus­tralia and maybe re­quested for ap­pli­cants usu­ally res­i­dent in Bhutan but ap­ply­ing else­where.

Etho Metho Tours and Treks Pvt Ltd have es­tab­lished the visa ap­pli­ca­tion cen­tre which is lo­cated in the 5th floor of Thim­phu Plaza lo­cated in Changlam and will open five days a week.

Etho Metho Tours and Treks CEO Dago Beda said that it will save a lot of ex­penses and will be lot more eas­ier for Bhutanese to ap­ply for visa with the new cen­tre in the coun­try.

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