PA/ 16 /16 19 May 2016
New Australian and UK Visa Application Centre opens in Thimphu
The Australian Ambassador to Bhutan, HE Harinder Sidhu, and, the Honorary Consul for the UK in Bhutan, Mr Michael Rutland, OBE, formally opened the new joint Visa Application Centre in Thimphu today.
The new Visa Application Centre (VAC) will enable Bhutanese nationals to apply for either their Australian or UK visa in Thimphu, rather than having to lodge their applications in India.
The VAC is a joint venture between Australia, UK Visas and Immigration and VFS Global, their commercial partner. It is hoped that the new VAC will encourage more Bhutanese to visit both Australia and the UK.
Ms Sidhu said she was pleased the new centre would improve access for applicants from Bhutan seeking to visit Australia for study, work or leisure.
“Australia and Bhutan are long-time friends and we are pleased to have been able 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 to Australia.”
The British High Commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG said: “I was delighted to announce the opening of the UK’s first Visa Application Centre during the successful visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Bhutan last month.
“This new application centre will make it much easier for Bhutanese visitors to get their visas and I hope it will encourage more visitors to come to the UK,” he said.
“Their Royal Highnesses thoroughly enjoyed their visit to this beautiful country and were overwhelmed by the warm welcome they received. I am sure that Bhutanese visitors coming to the UK will also receive a warm welcome and have a fantastic time exploring our country.”
The UK/Australian Visa Application centre will open five days a week from 09:00 - 14:00 and is located at:
UK/Australia Visa application centre
5th floor, Thimphu Plaza, 11B Chang Lam2
Notes to editors:
UK Visa Process
• 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 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.
• For more information on UKVI go to www.GOV.uk/ukvi
Australia Visa Process
• Australian visa applications will continue to be processed in India. For further information on the service visit the VFS website at www.vfsglobal.com/australia/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.
• For more information on Australian visa processes go to http://www.border.gov.au