Heeding to complaints from NRIs, India’s Ministry for External Affairs has instructed its embassies and foreign missions not to outsource any visa and passport related work to foreign firms.
A circular issued by the ministry has directed Indian High Commissions worldwide to award outsourcing contract only to Indian companies “with or without foreign partners”.
The WTO rules don’t permit Indian government to ban foreign companies completely.
These directives come soon following the foreign minister S M Krishna’s instructions to all Indian commissions warning them of disciplinary action if they failed to ensure transparency in procurement and visa outsourcing.
Officials said the decision to issue the circular was taken because of growing number of complaints against foreign firms, including Travisa in the US, which are handling such work on behalf of Indian missions, a leading newspaper reported.
Contrary to norm, it was back in 2007 when the ministry first allowed Indian missions to outsource visa and passport processing to private companies, sighting lack of resources as the main reason.
However, the ministry has received a growing number of complaints about visa and passport processing.
“The existing contracts will remain for now but from now on, no new contract will be given to any foreign firm which does not have any Indian partner,’ said an official.
The announcement has attracted mixed reactions from global Indians from around the world.
“I think this is a good decision. I have had pretty bad experience with VFS in the UK,” says Suresh from London.
“I was issued only six months’ visa while earlier I was given five years’ visas. This was very frustrating. Also, processing took a lot of time. It was only after I complained to the embassy directly that I received a faster service.”
However, some NRIs have some good stories to share. “Travisa in Chicago processed my OCI application in time,” says Meena.
“It is unfair to blam Travia who only process applications. The final visa decision as well as issuance of visa is managed by respective embassies directly.”