New Australian and UK visa application centre in Bhutan
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.