A message to the Indian community

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:

Centre Date of Opening
30 January
21 February
04 March
14 March
28 March
18 April

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 by May.

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: hoc@hcindia-au.org; 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.

Sujatha Singh
High Commissioner

© 2003 Consulate General of India ,Sydney