STARTING next month, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is launching a new scheme to support Indian companies bringing groups of 150 or more delegates into the UK, making the visa application procedure a more straightforward one for event organisers.
“In the last few years, UKVI has tried to improve its visa offers for Indian travellers. The new MICE scheme recognises the growing value of this market, and we are keen to support organisations bringing large groups to the UK,” said James Brokenshire, UK’s immigration minister who was on a five-day visit to India.
MICE groups will be given a point of contact at UKVI to discuss their trip and visa requirements, as well as a checklist of supporting documentation required. The organiser will then be required to sign a Memorandum of Understanding and agree to screen all visa applicants to ensure that they are eligible to apply for a visit visa under the MICE scheme. Once the applications are received, UKVI will assess them together as a group and return them in a timely manner.
Applicants under the MICE scheme can apply for their UK visa up to six months in advance. UKVI is also offering an option to avail premium services – such as group appointments where members can apply at the same visa application centre on a particular day and time – at an extra cost. Applicants can also utilise a priority service, allowing them access to a visa in three to five days.
“The processing time for group visas was previously long and there was uncertainty whether all travellers in the group will be issued a visa. Now with a dedicated point of contact, MICE organisers will be able ensure that all required documents are in place and their queries are addressed promptly,” commented Jasbir Singh, head – outbound tours, Travel Spirit International.