The new Australian and UK joint Visa application centre was formally opened on 19th of May this week. The event was graced by the Australian Ambassador to Bhutan, Harinder Sidhu and the Honorary Consul for the UK in Bhutan, Mr Michael Rutland. The VAC is a joint venture between Australia, UK Visas and Immigration and VFS Global their commercial partner.
The new visa application center (VAC) will enable Bhutanese nationals to apply for either their Australian or UK visa in Thimphu without having to lodge the application in India.
The UK/ Australian Visa Application centre will be open five days a week from 9am till 2pm located at 5th floor of Thimphu Plaza building near Chang Lam 2.
The main objective of VAC is to encourage more Bhutanese to visit both Australia and UK and improve access for the applicants from Bhutan seeking to visit Australia for study, work or leisure.
Ms Sidhu 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 to Australia.”
“Australia and Bhutan are long-time friends and we are pleased to have been able to make a major contribution by assisting Bhutan’s developmentover many years. Education is the backbone of this connection” she said.
The British High commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG said that its delightful to open the event of the UK’s first VAC during the successful visit of the Duke and Duchess to a country last month adding that the Bhutanese visitors to UK shall also receive a warm welcome and have a fantastic time exploring their country.
The new application center is expected to make it easier for Bhutanese visitors to get the visas and encourage more visitors to come to the UK.
The UK visa 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 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.
For further information on the service people can visit the VFS website. Customers requiring advice on their application should contact the International Enquiry Service.
All visa decisions 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.
Australian visa applications 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 10-digit fingerprint scan on a dry scanner machine.
Visa applicants who mail their applications to the Australian High Commission 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 may be requested for applicants usually resident in Bhutan but applying elsewhere.