I am happy to inform that starting from early 2008, the
High Commission of India in Canberra and the Consulates
General of India in Sydney and Melbourne will be outsourcing
visa, passport and OCI collection and delivery processes.
The decision to outsource this work is
in order to ensure that our visa, passport and OCI application
process is as efficient and customer friendly as possible.
The growing Indian community in Australia and the rapid
transformation of India-Australia relations in recent years
has resulted, inter-alia, in an unprecedented growth in
the number of business travelers, tourists and other Australian
residents visiting India. Given the strong growth in interactions
in the economic, commercial, technological, educational,
cultural and virtually all other fields, and the close ties
that the vibrant Indian Australian community retain with
their country of origin, the demand for visa & passport
and other consular services continues to grow.
The outsourcing contract has been awarded
to an Indian firm M/s VFS Services Australia Pty Ltd., which
will be opening six visa & Passport Services Centres
all over Australia, as follows:
||Date of Opening
M/s VFS has considerable experience in
handling visa applications in various countries. They are
partner to 19 foreign diplomatic missions across the world,
with operations spanning 39 countries. VFS has also been
trusted with outsourcing visa services by the Indian Diplomatic
Missions in Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, France and the UK.
VFS has a modern IT driven on-line application and tracking
system, which is expected to provide excellent value-added
service. This will be at a reasonable cost of A$ 16.36 (plus
GST) per application.
Visa, passport and OCI fees and service
charges for all applications with effect from the respective
dates of opening of the six Visa & Passport Services
Centres (V&PSC) will be payable to M/s VFS Services
Australia Pty Ltd.
Our commitment to offering efficient visa, passport and
OCI services will be reflected in the six customer friendly
and easily accessible Visa & Passport Services Centre
(V&PSC). All the six Centres are at places easily accessible
by public transport and with nearby parking facilities,
which will be convenient to those who prefer to apply for
visas in person. The Centres will also offer prompt and
efficient responses to all queries including telephone and
e-mail queries relating to these services.
The visa, passport and OCI fees and service
charges can be paid in cash, drafts or money orders. Arrangement
for payment by credit card/ debit card will be in place
There will be an on-line tracking facility
for all visa, passport & OCI related documents, functional
elegant office space for personalized service with user-friendly
computer facilities and bi-lingual staff to handle applications
submitted in person, and a Call Centre.
With regard to telephone queries in particular,
I seek the understanding, cooperation and support of all
those availing of our visa and other consular services.
I fully understand the exasperation of those who cannot
get through to us on dedicated telephone lines, either because
the lines are busy or the voice mail boxes are full. An
analysis made by us reveals that most telephone calls and
e-mails, often fairly lengthy, either seek information which
is already available on our websites or are in the nature
of enquiries on the status of receipt or delay in dispatch
of documents. Our experience has been that delays in turn
were mostly due to incomplete forms, or delay in submission
of applications routed through travel agents or on account
of inadequate or no mailing fees. The end result has been
that timely access has often not available to genuine seekers
of information and even to those who require emergency services.
We obviously cannot allow such a situation to continue.
Our aim is to respond to every genuine
enquiry in a timely manner. At the same time, we will not
follow the practice of some Embassies/ High Commissions
which do not accept telephone queries. I would appeal to
all those who seek consular services from the High Commission
and the Consulates General to help us provide better and
quicker service by carefully reading and following the procedures
spelt out in our websites, completing all applications in
full, enclosing all documents and fees required, including
for return mail, and using tracking facilities to ascertain
the current status. For individual enquiries, brief and
succinct e-mails could be sent to the designated addresses
given in the websites for respective services. Telephone
queries, if any, may please be brief. This would help supervisory
officers to monitor and audit responses.
While we will outsource the collection
and delivery process of our visa, passport & OCI applications,
the Consular Wings of the High Commission and Consulates
General and Honorary Consulates will continue to offer services
after office hours or on holidays for emergency travel on
extreme compassionate grounds (death in the family).
In our continuing effort to improve consular services, the
websites on consular and visa services in the High Commission
and all the Consulates General in Australia are being streamlined
and harmonised We will endeavour to further improve dissemination
of current information on a range of issues of interest,
covering economic, commercial and other developments and
related information on customs duties, investment regulations,
etc., by offering convenient links to the websites.
I would welcome suggestions on how we may
further improve our consular services. Concise and constructive
comments or suggestions, with the full name and contact
details of the sender may please be sent to the Head of
Chancery, High Commission of India, 3-5 Moonah Place, Yarralumla,
ACT 2600 (e-mail: email@example.com; Fax: 02-62731308).
While this is a lengthy message, I thought
it would be useful to keep the community informed in some
detail about the steps we are taking to improve our services
in areas that are of interest to all of us.
It is our hope that 2008 will usher in,
through all these measures, a qualitative improvement in
the visa, passport and OCI services offered.
I would like to wish all of you the very
best for a successful, happy and prosperous 2008.