Delays in Indian passport applications occurring since October in Dubai will continue for a few more months, a senior official said on Sunday.
Sandeep Chaudhary, the passports consul at the Indian Consulate in Dubai, expects the revised processing schedule to last roughly three to four months.
In October, the consulate extended the schedule from seven working days to a minimum of 15 working days for passports issued in Dubai.
He said Indian missions in the region, and not just in the UAE, are coping with a backlog of applications. For passports issued elsewhere, the schedule was extended from 40 to a minimum of 60 working days.
Also delayed was the fast-track Tatkal service, from three to five working days at the minimum.
Chaudhary said the schedule was extended because each application was taking more time as a result of new procedures done online. Until the online procedures are fully streamlined, the delays will continue, he added.
“There are certain internal procedures we have to do for each application online now, as per the [Indian] Ministry of External Affairs’ PSP [Passport Seva Project]. The changes started for us in August. Regional Passport Offices in India are connected to PSP. Indian missions abroad, including the consulate in Dubai, are being streamlined. It requires the overhauling of software, which will take roughly three to four months in my estimate,” Chaudhary told Gulf News.
“As a result, the backlog started piling up and by October we had to revise the schedule to allow for extra output time and longer processing period. This is not something unique to the consulate in Dubai. We’re in touch with the [MEA] headquarters in India on this issue.”
The backlog was bigger in Dubai, Chaudhary explained because the consulate caters to around 1.7 million Indians in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.
“We get around 800 passport applications per day, which is a huge number. Our staff members are keeping longer hours to cope with the backlog. For emergency and humanitarian cases, we try to help them get a passport as soon as possible, within days,” he added.
“We’ve reduced the backlog somewhat. Some people are getting their passports before the schedule. We don’t wait for the scheduled deadline to come. If the passport is ready, we deliver it.”