Saturday, July 7, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

‘Drop box’ visa facility on cards
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 6
Frequent fliers from Punjab to the USA could soon avail the “drop box” facility in the state, if the system introduced in the Capital is successful.

Tourists and business visitors from Punjab at present have to come to Delhi to complete their visa formalities. Most of them spend their time and money merely to drop the visa forms and passport at the US Embassy in the Capital.

“The `drop box’ service has been a success in the South and Delhi is the first centre in North India to have such a facility. If the number of visa seekers from Punjab are considerable in number, then the US Embassy would think of extending such a facility in the state,” Wing Cdr N. R. Kanti, Manager, TT Services, told The Tribune.

The southern India-based company has been given the contract by the US Embassy to extend the “drop box” facility. It has its offices in Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

The visa-seekers have to come to the office to fill in the forms and submit these at the counter. After processing it is sent to the US Embassy for scanning. Once the papers are cleared there, they are sent back to the TT Services office from where they would be couriered to the applicants.

A businessman from Ludhiana, Mr Amrik Singh, said “I would be quite happy if such `drop box’ facility is started in Chandigarh or other cities in the state. This would save energy, time and money.”

A US Embassy official said the drop box facility was primarily for those applicants who had been screened earlier. It was not for those applying for the first time.

The ‘drop box’ facility was first started on the embassy premises and it was found that almost 80 per cent of visa seekers were not first time visitors. So, it was decided to extend the facility with the help of TT Service to the door- step of the applicant.

In a change from the earlier system of successful visa applicant standing in queue again to collect the passport, the US Embassy has started sending the passport through courier. This is also being handled by TT Services.

Mr Kanti said the ‘drop box’ facility could be availed of by persons who had frequented to the USA in the past five years, renewal of H, J, L visa category, government officials, defence and diplomatic passport holders and other categories specified by the embassy.

Stating that the company merely collects the forms and processes it, Commander Kanti said the discretion of issuing the visa rests solely with the US Embassy.

The company has also started its own website, which the applicant can avail of to fill up the form. Once completed and submitted, a computerised code is issued to the applicant, who could then complete the formality of submitting the relevant documents within minutes.

“Those who avail of the website is given preference, as they have completed most of the formalities,” he said.

The soft launch of services by the company started last month and it has been handling an average of about 150 passports despatching 350 passports by courier.

“Initial response to the service has been satisfactory. We have so far handled 2.5 lakh passports in southern India and our Chennai office handles on an average of 500 passport in the `drop box’ facility,” he added.

The company plans to expand its base in other parts of the country and it could soon become a reality with the US Embassy projecting one million Indians travelling to the “land of opportunities” by 2003-04.


Hindujas out of AI bid

New Delhi, July 6
The government tonight disqualified Hindujas from the race for acquiring stake in both Air India and Indian Airlines, making the Tata-Singapore Airlines combine as the sole bidder for India’s international flag carrier while the privatisation process for IA has been rendered infructuous.

Videocon, the other bidder for Indian Airlines, was also disqualified as per the guidelines approved by the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment, preceded by a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security, for keeping the tainted companies out of the process of privatisation of PSUs put on the block by the government.

Announcing the guidelines, Disinvestment Minister Arun Shourie told reporters that BPL’s bid for stake in Videsh Sanchar Nigam was upheld even though Sterlite Industries, bidding for Hindustan Zinc and Hindustan Copper, was disqualified. PTI

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |