From The Times of India
September 19, 2007
WASHINGTON: Amid all the hoopla about Indian firms taking away American jobs, the Indian Embassy in Washington DC and Indian consulates elsewhere in the United States have outsourced visa procedures to an American firm.
The visa outsourcing contract was awarded, after competitive bidding by US and Indian firms, to the American firm Travisa outsourcing Inc., the Indian Embassy announced Monday. The terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Travisa has a modern IT driven online application and tracking system which is expected to provide value-added service at a reasonable cost of $13 per visa application, Embassy officials said.
The new service will start effective October 1, 2007. Under the new procedure, Visa fee and service charge for all applications will be payable to M/s Travisa Outsourcing, Inc, which has established Visa Application Centers in Washington D.C., New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Houston. The visa fees and service charges can be paid by credit or debit cards or by cashier checks or money orders.
The actual visa itself will be issued by the Embassy or consulates after due scrutiny. The Embassy said the scheme envisages an on-line tracking facility for all visa related documents; same day service for applications received at the Visa Application Centers and next day service for applications received by mail (excluding postal/courier delivery time); functionally elegant office space for personalized service with user-friendly computer facilities and bi-lingual staff to handle applications submitted in person; and a 24/7 Call Center.
In an explanatory note, Ambassador Ronen Sen said outsourcing of visa procedures became necessary for several reasons, including the sheer growth in the volume of visa applications because of growing trade-related travel and tourism between the two countries, and constraints of space and shortage of personnel at the embassy.
Consular officials often had to deal with irate applicants who turned in incomplete applications and wrong-sized photographs.
In many instances, applicants would get upset seeing variable visa fees for different nationalities, not knowing that such fees are charged on a reciprocal basis with different countries.