DUBAI - The British Visa Application Centre (VAC) in Dubai will operate from a new location from tomorrow to facilitate the processing of more visas, with the UK recording an increase in travellers from the UAE.
The new VAC in Dubai, and the recently refurbished centre in Abu Dhabi, are part of the UK’s efforts to step up its services to handle the increase in travel from the country.
“The number of applications last summer was higher than our projections, which is why we needed to look at the existing centres. At the moment, our application numbers are growing across the GCC and not just the UAE,” said Jackie Colton, Visa Services Operations Manager for Iran and the Gulf States and the UK Border Agency’s spokesperson in Dubai.
The VAC, which has been accepting and processing visa applications from the BurJuman Business Centre since 2007 on behalf of the British Embassy, has shifted to a bigger location at the Business Atrium Building in Oud Mehta Road. Similarly, the VAC in Abu Dhabi was expanded and reconfigured last month to handle the increased student, tourist and business visa applicants to the UK.
“We saw an increase of about 12 per cent (in applications) in the UAE between April 2008 and March 2009. In Abu Dhabi, the increase was by three per cent. Most of the increase is in Dubai,” said Colton. She added that they were anticipating a healthy rise in numbers even this summer.
The UK Border Agency processed a total 72,745 visa applications in the UAE for 2008-2009. The renovated VAC in the capital is a state-of-the-art centre comprising of additional seating capacity, more biometric enrollment stations to expedite processing, besides other features to aid applicants. The centre also includes a separate VisitBritain kiosk for travellers to obtain tourist information before they travel to the UK.
The existing VAC in Dubai remained shut on Sunday and Monday. The new application centre will start accepting visa applications from Tuesday.
In September 2007, the British missions in the UAE and elsehwere stopped accepting applications. Instead VACs were set up in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and applicants, since then, have been required to submit their biometric data as part of the UK’s efforts to secure its borders.