VFS Global has secured the international contract for managing overseas Visa and Citizenship Application Service (VCAS) for the United Kingdom (UK).
VFS Global is a specialized company that provides visa outsourcing and technology services to governments and diplomatic missions worldwide.
The company handles administrative tasks for passport, visa, and consular services on behalf of client governments.
It has been a reliable partner for the UK since 2003.
“We are delighted to win this contract and expand our partnership with the Home Office to become their service provider for all UK visa customers overseas,” Zubin Karkaria, Founder and CEO of VFS Global, said in a press release.
He added, “We are excited to begin operations in new locations and to take the next step towards providing customers with a seamless, simple, and secure visa and passport application experience.”
The UK government anticipates cost savings with the new contract with VFS Global.
VFS Global is also responsible for Australia’s global biometric collection and worldwide visa renewal service for Sweden.
What the new contract entails
In 2024, VFS Global will deploy 240 VCAS centers for the UK in 142 countries across the globe.
It will cover Africa & Middle East, the Americas, Australasia and Europe, China and Taiwan, and Asia and Asia Pacific.
These VCAS centers will accept all categories of visa applications and UK passport applications in some locations. These new centers are estimated to process 3.8 million applicants yearly.
VFS Global will also invest to improve the customer journey and increase accessibility. This means creating new customer websites and enhanced in-person experiences.
With advanced technology, VFS Global aims to maintain strict identity verification standards. This ensures the security and reliability of the visa and passport application process.
VFS Global also plans to grow its network of supplementary paid application centers. Located in hotels and resorts, these centers will make the visa application process more convenient.
Such services are only available in India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the United States of America (USA) through partnerships with local hotels.
Increased number of UK visitors
A total of 1,815,342 visitor visas were granted, which is twice the number given in the previous year.
The increase is likely due to the lifting of travel restrictions and the world reopening after the pandemic.
The top nationalities for UK visitor visas granted in the year ending June 2023 are visitors from India, China, Turkey, and Nigeria.
However, it is essential to note that the number of UK visitor visas granted is significantly lower than the actual number of visitor arrivals.
This is because many nationalities, including European Union (EU) and US citizens, do not usually require a visa to visit the UK.
Tracking non-visa nationals arriving in the UK
By 2024, the UK government will have a clearer picture of the comings and goings of all visitors to the country.
The new Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) is not a visa but a digital travel permit. It allows non-visa nationals, or travelers who do not need a visitor visa, to travel to the UK.
The ETA and the UK Visit visa allow short trips to the UK or stays of up to six months. This can include tourism, visiting family and friends, short course study, and permitted business activities.
The digital travel permit will also be required for visa-exempt individuals transiting or changing planes in the UK.
As much as the UK visas track entry and exit of visa-required nations, the ETA will help log non-visa nationals arriving and exiting the country.