Indian visa service: More confusion with further changes

If you don't mind spending a little more, it could be well worth investing in a specialist visa service

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The Independent Travel

Q. Help! I have spent ages trying to understand the visa requirements for India. With the help of my travel agent we have attempted the online route via VF Services, the outsourcing service. However, they are not at all forthcoming with precise information. Can I send the printed form to them by post? Can I pay by credit/debit card, postal order? Where do I send it to? I think it may be Hayes, but it could be Slough. I do not wish to play the age card but I am 76, reasonable on the computer – but, am so frustrated by this that I really feel like giving up and going to Torquay instead! Can you offer your advice? Glenda Smart

A. Your frustration is understandable. Two weeks ago the Indian authorities imposed the need for all prospective visitors to attend one of 14 application centres dotted around the UK. The move, said the High Commission in London, was in preparation for biometric procedures – taking photographs and fingerprints of all applicants.

After howls of protest from the travel trade, both the "personal callers only" and the biometrics plan have been abandoned, and we are back where we were before 16 March. The procedure remains cumbersome, with a need to start online at in.vfsglobal.co.uk then move to paper, requiring photographs at a non-standard two-inch square.

I called the information line (020 3695 8996) and it was confirmed that the address for postal applications is neither Slough nor Hayes but Hounslow: the Vista Centre, 1st floor, Part A Block 50, Salisbury Road, Hounslow TW4 6JQ. You are warned that the normal processing time of five working days will be two weeks longer.

Payment can be made by postal order, with the £92.20 fee made payable to VF Services UK Ltd.

If you don't mind spending a little more, it could be well worth investing in a specialist visa service such as Trailfinders in London or the Travel Visa Service in Crewe.

In contrast, no paperwork is involved for Torquay – though be warned that this weekend rail journeys from London will be extended by up to two hours because of engineering works on the line from Paddington.

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