London: An Indian visa centre will be set up at Leicester after a 20-year campaign by its citizens seeking the establishment of the facility in the city which has a significant Indian-origin population.
The announcement was made by Deputy High Commissioner of India Dr Virender Paul on Thursday.
The Indian government currently runs visa centres in Birmingham and London, as well as Edinburgh and Cardiff.
Leicester has a total population of 329,000, 28.3 percent of which is of Indian-origin.
"We have eight centres in six cities and we are going to have six more in different cities. I am happy to say Leicester will be one of those. It will ease the problems of the Indian-origin community in Leicester having to travel. We realistically expect that in three to four months all the new centres should be up and running," Paul said.
Indian-origin MP from Leicester East Keth Vaz said, "This is a dream come true. I cannot believe that after so many people campaigning over the last few decades that it has finally happened. It will allow residents to save even more time and money."
The announcement was made at a lunch reception held at the Peepul Centre in Leicester. Local councillors and dignitaries attended the lunch hosted by Vaz in honour of Paul, the new Indian Deputy High Commissioner who has recently arrived from Washington.
The occasion was marked by a symbolic release of balloons, one for each year of the campaign, which started in 1993.
Numerous campaigns, letters and petitions from Leicester`s citizens, asking for an Indian Visa centre, have been presented by Vaz to the High Commission in the past. He has raised the issue on numerous occasions while visiting India.