The British city of Leicester has won a 20-year campaign to have its own Indian visa centre, which will benefit a large Indian-origin community in the region.
The centre in the city’s Belgrave area was officially opened by Indian Consul General in Birmingham, V S Ramalingam, and Leicester’s Indian-origin MP Keith Vaz.
“I cannot believe that after so many years of campaigning, it has finally become a reality. It is a wonderful gift to Leicester,” the Labour MP and chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee said.
“With the Home Office biometric centre in the city centre and now a new Indian visa centre, Leicester is the hub of the East Midlands,” Vaz said as he applied for an Indian visa at the centre yesterday.
People from places outside Leicester, like Loughborough, Coventry and Northampton, will be able to come to the city, bringing in more trade for businesses on the Golden Mile, he added.
According to research done earlier this year, Leicester emerged as one of the few cities in the UKwhere white Britons are in a minority. Indian-origin families of Gujarati descent are the most common ethnic minority community in the region.
Sital Singh Gill, general secretary of the Indian Workers Association in Leicestershire, welcomed the new centre, saying it will save this group from travelling to Birmingham or London for a visa to visit relatives in India.
“The office will be of huge benefit for the Asian population in Leicester, who are used to travelling to Birmingham for Indian visa and passport services,” he told the media.
“It will also be of great benefit for all of those in nearby cities such as Nottingham, Derby and Peterborough.