Ugandans intending to travel to the United Kingdom will, beginning end of May, have to mandatorily apply for visas on-line, according to changes announced yesterday. The UK High Commission in Kampala, in a statement, said that “the new process will be straightforward, and will help us to continue to offer a high quality visa service”.
Presently, prospective applicants pick hard-copy visa application forms from the Visa Handling Services, whose Uganda office is at the Communication House in Kampala, and return the document after filling. This arrangement forces applicants, some in far-flung corners of the country, to make return trips to the city, and spend more on transport, feeding and lodging when applying.
Filing applications on-line, by logging on www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk, would now mean visa seekers report to the submission centre only once, cutting back personal costs. “This change is being implemented globally, with the aim being that all applications are submitted online by the end of 2012,” Press Officer Christine Kyosiimirwe said yesterday. “From May 30, 2011, online applications will become mandatory for customers applying in Uganda.”
Applicants will, however, need to print a copy of their online application and make appointment for submission at the Kampala Visa Application Centre (VAC) by logging to onto the website; www.vfs-uk-ug.com.
Other requirements for UK visa, according to official information, include a valid passport, two passport-sized photograph, itinerary, appropriate visa fees, and supporting documents such as bank statements and invitation letter.
The UK Border Agency, has since November 2008, encouraged visa applicants around the world to apply online, in part officials say to reduce queuing times for customers and streamline overall visa operation. London says almost half of all UK visa customers worldwide applied online in 2010.
In yesterday’s statement, the High Commission said they will, from May 30, 2011, still continue to “offer a ‘drop in’ service at VAC for genuine emergency or time-sensitive cases”. Officials gave no examples of such urgent cases for which applicants can walk in and process the visa, but made clear eligibility assessment will follow a “strict set of criteria on a case by case basis”.
Additional Reporting by Karen Mukama
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