The number of centres providing Indian passport and visa services in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah will double from early next year, Gulf News has reported citing Neeta Bhushan, Charge d’Affaires at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
Additional service centres to be opened
The embassy will select two companies (instead of the existing one) that will open additional service centres in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, where a large number of passport and visa applications are handled on a daily basis.
- The number of services centres to be operated in these three emirates will be divided between two companies and customers can choose the one in accordance with their convenience.
- The lone service centres in other emirates will continue except two in Kalba and Khorfakkan that will be closed due to low number of customers.
- A new centre in Musaffah in Abu Dhabi will cater to thousands of blue-collar workers living in the industrial area and Indians in the Western Region of the emirate.
High demand for consular services
The embassy decided to increase the number of service providers, considering a large number of Indians in the UAE. An estimated 2.6 million Indians are living in the UAE
- The two Indian diplomatic missions in the UAE issue around 300,000 passports a year.
- The Indian Consulate General in Dubai that caters to Dubai and five other northern emirates issue 240,000 passports and the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi 60,000 passports a year.
- Both the missions issue 74,000 Indian visas a year.
Asked about any changes in services charges, the official said the companies would be selected based on the lowest bids offered by them and it would be looked into at that stage only.
Currently, BLS International is charging Dh9 as service charge for passport related transactions, apart from optional courier charges to deliver the passport. The applicants also pay Dh6 towards Indian community welfare fund set up by the embassy to help Indians in distress.
The embassy has opened a tender on Monday to select the two companies and the last date for submission of proposals would be January 9, 2017. The details are available on www.indembassyuae.org.
According to Bushan, the new companies are expected to start their operations in February.