New Delhi: More than 1.2 lakh Indians have been issued visas in the last 10 months which is way more than 97,000 total visas issued last year, France Ambassador to India Francois Richier said on Monday.
"Total no of visas issued by France to India was 97,000 in 2014, which saw a 37 per cent rise as compared to 2013. As of 2015, 1,21,000 visas have been issued so far and we are expecting the number to reach 1.4 to 1.5 lakh at the end of this year", Richier said.
He was speaking at an event where he highlighted aspects of a new system of biometric visas that has come into effect from November 2, keeping in line with all the countries in the Schengen Area.
It has been made mandatory for all visa applicants to come in person at any listed VFS centre of their choice to register their biometric data. Children under the age of 12 years are exempted from this procedure.
The recorded biometric data will be stored for a period of 59 months (almost 5 years), obviating the need for applicants to come in person again for renewing their visa.
Richier said that due to a turnaround time of only 48 hours to process the visas, there is a sharp increase in the application for visas to France.
"The new biometric system is providing additional security for both us and the applicants. What we have endeavoured is to increase sharply the 3 year or 4 year Visas instead of only 3-6 months", he said.
He also informed that France is partnering with Indian travel agencies in major metros and that there would be a large number of VFS centres at places like Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Jalandhar, Puducherry, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi among others.
"You need not to go to a travel agent frequently for the visa processing and this system will definitely cut down the whole cost", Richier said.
The visa processing under new biometric will be implemented by 5 French consulates present in Delhi, Kolkata, Puducherry, Mumbai and Bengaluru, he added.
The biometric data recorded by France will be valid during this period for all Schengen Area countries (similarly, the data recorded by any Schengen Area country will be valid for France during a period of 59 months).
The transition to biometrics will not impact the visa issuance period, which, for India, is a maximum of 48 hours, an official statement had said.