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BLS International office in Deira Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Starting from August, Indian expats in the UAE can get their passports renewed in two days after submitting their applications, Consul General of India in Dubai Dr Aman Puri told Gulf News on Friday.

Also, the Indian Consulate in Dubai will accept passport applications from expats living across the UAE, irrespective of their place of residence or the emirate that issued their visas, he announced.

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Earlier, the centres of BLS International — the outsourced service provider for Indian passport and visa applications — under the mission were only accepting passport applications from Indian expats with their visas issued from Dubai and the northern emirates.

Now onwards, Dr Puri said all the BLS centres in Dubai and the northern emirates will accept passport applications from expats living or working in Abu Dhabi as well. And the passport renewal applications will be processed by the mission on the same day it receives them from the BLS centres.

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Dr Aman Puri Image Credit: Supplied

Usually, applications submitted to BLS centres are sent to the mission the next morning.

As per the new decision to further streamline the service, the consulate will process the applications on the same day it receives them and the passports will be delivered to the applicants the next day.

Hence, the expats now stand to get their passports renewed by the mission in two days after submitting the application.

Dr Puri said almost 95 per cent of the passport applications are now expected to be processed the very next day after submission.

Some would take more time

“It would take a longer time, an average of two weeks, if there is any need for special approvals like police verification or any other clearance from India,” the Consul General explained.

He said both the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Indian Consulate in Dubai used to process applications from the emirates under each other’s jurisdiction only in certain cases.

“Now, it will not be on a case-to-case basis. People can submit their applications to any of the BLS centres that is the nearest to them,” Dr Puri explained.

During the pre-pandemic days, the mission used to receive about 850 passport applications daily.

Last year, the consulate had issued more than 200,000 passports, one of the highest numbers of passport services provided by any Indian diplomatic mission in the world.

The number of applications had come down due to the COVID-19 movement restrictions and temporary closure of some of the BLS centres to follow the current safety protocols. However, Dr Puri said the number of applications has once again gone up in the recent past.

He said the two BLS centres that have suspended their services would be opened as soon as possible.

Earlier in January, the previous Consul General Vipul had announced that the consulate would start issuing tatkal passports (issued in emergency cases) on the same day.

The same day issuance service for tatkal passports can still be availed, only if the application is submitted before noon at the office of BLS International in Al Khaleej Centre, Bur Dubai.

Under the tatkal scheme, passports can be availed with a fee of Dh855 for 36 pages and Dh950 for 60 pages.

Regular passports are issued at Dh285 for 36 pages and Dh380 for 60 pages.

Single-window online helpline

Dr Puri also announced the launch of a single-window online helpline service on the website of the mission.

The service that can be accessed through the ‘Helpline’ tab on the home page of the website is meant to be a centralised facility to provide help and information sought by Indian expats.

This will eliminate the need for those seeking support or services or information from the mission to write to its officials through different emails.

“We have different emails for officers handling labour issues, distress women’s cases and for passport issues. Sometimes people just want to know some information from the consulate. We have simplified the process of seeking help and information from the consulate through this helpline.”

Those seeking help or information need to provide their basic details. The applicant will receive a thank you message and a unique reference number which can be used for further correspondence.

“Our officers will contact them as soon as possible and follow up the matter,” Dr Puri said.

The announcement comes a day before the consulate is beginning a new emergency consular service on holidays.

Starting August 1, the mission will provide emergency consular services to people who register in advance, from 8am to 10am on all holidays, including weekends.

Dr Puri said the online helpline service is provided in addition to the three helpline numbers that had been given for those seeking emergency service on holidays to register their details.

Helpline numbers to access emergency consular services

056-5463903 (24x7)

054-3090575/ 054-3090571/ 054-3090572 (8am to 8pm all days)

The following 11 centres are operational:

Dubai: Al Khaleej centre BurDubai, Deira City Centre and Premium Lounge, Bur Dubai

Sharjah: Sharjah HSBC Building, Sharjah Indian Association

Ajman: Indian Association, Ajman

Um Al Quwain: BLS Centre

Ras Al Khaimah: BLS Centre

Fujairah: Fujairah IA

Khorfakkan: KFK IA

Kalba: Kalba IA

Non-functional post-Covid-19: KMCC Sabka branch & RAK IRC