US introduces new visa application procedure in India

The Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) will be the sole provider of visa services to applicants for US visas throughout India from Oct. 2005.

Designated branches of HDFC Bank across the country will act as fee collection centres.

"VFS, which is currently offering similar service for the Mumbai consular district, will become the sole provider of visa services to all applicants for US visas in India as of October 3," Miguel Ordonez, acting chief of consular services, the American Consulate General, said.

He said the decision to expand the Embassy's relationship with VFS was based on the cost advantage they offered to visa applicants.

The VFS will provide visa applicants throughout India with information, appointments, and courier services and the cost savings would be Rs 276 (including taxes) per applicant for appointments booked from October 3.

However, the new visa service system will still require each applicant to pay the standard non-immigration visa application fee of USD 100 before booking an appointment.

The visa application fee is non-refundable and may not be transferred to any other visa applicant, except with special permission from the Embassy.

To facilitate the programme, the Embassy has expanded its existing relationship with Bank of America, which will collect the fee at a number of locations throughout India through its partner bank, HDFC Bank.

"The visa application fee, which must be paid before making an appointment, may only be paid at a designated branch of HDFC Bank," he explained