India, Kuwait, Turkey and the United Kingdom – Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration dispatch
Discover key changes to immigration regulations in India, Kuwait, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
India – biometrics now required at visa application centres in the United KingdomThe High Commission of India in the United Kingdom has announced that, as of 19 August, biometric appointments will be required for applicants in seven visa categories (including employment visas). In addition to the employment category, this new requirement also applies to journalist, research, student, Pakistani visit, project and missionary visa categories. The new requirement will be rolled out in the fourteen VFS Indian Visa Application Centres (IVACs) in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.The biometric enrolment will be completed at the time the visa application is submitted at the IVAC. It will involve photographs and fingerprinting. Applicants are reminded that they must therefore appear in person to submit their visa applications. Applicants under 12 years-old and over 70 years-old are exempt from the new biometric requirement.
Immigration changes from around the world
Kuwait – new online visa-on-arrival system goes liveThe Kuwaiti Minister of the Interior (MOI) announced this month that a new online e-visa service is now up and running. The new service is available to nationals of the five other Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) countries and nationals of an additional 52 countries traveling to Kuwait. Additionally, the new service gives members of 14 designated professions special considerations, such as visas for spouses, children, and household workers.Under the new electronic system, the applicant submits the application online and receives a return email with a visa reference number when the visa is granted. The applicant then gives the reference number to the visa officer at the port of entry into Kuwait and receives a hard copy of the visa.The new system is networked into the MOI database so that any criminal background or other security issues can be discovered immediately upon online application submission. In most cases, the applicant receives the visa reference number or decision on their application within 24 hours. The aim is to eliminate the occasional difficulty some travellers have experienced in arriving at the airport in Kuwait only to find that they are denied a visa-on-arrival because of some issue with their background check.
Turkey – stricter requirements and long delays for residence permit renewalsWith the 20 July imposition of the State of Emergency Act following the recent failed coup attempt in Turkey, the Turkish Immigration Office (IO) has announced stricter requirements on resident foreign nationals. Most significant among the changes so far is the new requirement that foreign nationals appear at an in person meeting to finalise their Residence Permit renewal procedures.Previously, this process was completed entirely online; however, while applicants still file their renewal applications via Turkey’s online application system, they must now schedule an in-person appointment as well. Because of the sudden implementation of this new requirement and its demand on IO resources, foreign nationals currently applying for Residence Permit renewals are already receiving appointment dates into February 2017.Therefore, foreign nationals residing in Turkey who need to renew their Residence Permits should be prepared for this process change and resulting delay. In planning ahead, applicants should also remember that supporting documents from their home countries may be required as part of the renewal application and those foreign documents may require authentication via legalisation or Apostille. These documents will be required at the time of the in person appointment and sufficient time should be allotted to finalise the authentications, if applicable.Applicants who are unable to get an appointment date before their current Residence Permit expires should retain a copy of their renewal application form showing that it was completed prior to their Residence Permit expiring along with the appointment date. In addition, foreign nationals with expired Residence Permits but who have filed their renewal application and scheduled their appointment may remain in the country while they await their renewal appointment. However, they will not be able to exit Turkey and return without obtaining an additional entry visa to re-enter.Pro-Link GLOBAL’s KGNM office in Turkey can confirm that this is now the current practice at the Istanbul Immigration Office. However, we have no word yet whether renewal appointments are being required in other regions of Turkey. The Emergency Act has an initial implementation period of 90 days, but may be extended beyond that for an undetermined period. Given the current governmental and security situation, Pro-Link GLOBAL is advising its clients in Turkey for the foreseeable future to expect strict enforcement of all immigration requirements and possible delays at all stages of the immigration process.
United Kingdom – online access UK digital visa application service global rolled outThe UK Home Office announced 19 August that the Access UK online digital application service is now available globally. Applicants for visas to the UK in over 180 countries may process visa applications in 10 languages. Applicants can use the system for faster application with an intuitive online form along with checklists, required document lists, and process steps to obtain UK visas. The new Access UK replaces the previous Visa4UK and adds the further convenience of access from any mobile device.
Reminders – recent and upcoming immigration implementationsThe following are reminders of recent or upcoming implementation dates that you should know:
- 31 August 2016, Chile – Chile joins The Hague Apostille Convention and begins accepting apostilled documentation. (See our Immigration Dispatch of 9-15 August 2016 for additional details.)
- 25-29 August, Sri Lanka – Department of Immigration is moving offices from Colombo to Battaramulla. Expect delays in application processing during this time.
- September, Ireland – New EPOS online Employment Application system comes online this month. Previous paper application forms are no longer accepted. DJEI Employment Permits Section urges applications to wait for EPOS to come online to submit new applications. (See our Global Brief from 11 August for additional details.)
- 1 September, Taiwan – Visa-free travel using online TTAC application system is available for nationals of fifteen Asian countries. (See our Immigration Dispatch of 2-8 August for additional details.)
- 9-13 September, Muslim nations – The Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha will be observed in Muslim nations throughout the world. Exact dates of observance may vary by a day or two in some countries. Private companies, public offices and government offices will be closed.