UK travellers visiting India will soon have to provide fingerprint data to obtain a visa.
Starting on March 14 travellers will have to make appointments at application centres for “biometric data collection”, where fingerprint data and facial imagery will be a “mandatory requirement” for all visa applicants.
The High Commission of India states on its website that, after outsourcing the process to a company called VFS, all applicants will need to be physically present at India Visa and Consular Services centres to submit an application and biometric data.
The Commission said it will open more processing centres to cope with the upswing in demand and the increased time it will take to complete visa applications.
"The proposed launch date for the first biometric applications is March 14 and further details of operational structures will be released on February 23,” it said in a statement.
Application Centres that will allow travellers to submit biometric testing for visas will open across the UK in March with centres being introduced in cities including London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Bristol.
Travel trade organisation ABTA has expressed its concerns over the changes. “We are writing to the Indian High Commission expressing our concern about the short notice given concerning this change to visa requirements, requesting that they either reconsider or delay its introduction," said Nikki White, ABTA head of destinations and sustainability.
"We are also expressing our concerns about the requirement for individual family members to book separate appointments which could cause considerable unnecessary inconvenience and have the unintended consequence of discouraging travel to India."
The changes go against the recent simplification of the process for travellers from other countries, including: Australia, Germany, Finland, Japan and New Zealand, which offers a visa on arrival in the country.
Earlier this month home secretary Theresa May outlined major changes to the visa system to make the UK more attractive to businesses.
The overhaul of the system will see the number of visa types available to foreign travellers cut from 15 to four.