News article

First mobile visa service held in Vientiane today

This world location news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The British Embassy Vientiane held its first ever mobile visa clinic today. 14 applicants submitted their visa applications.

The Vientiane mobile visa clinic is a service provided in cooperation with the British Embassy Bangkok as well as VFS Global, UK Visas and Immigration’s commercial partner in South East Asia. VFS Global operates most of the UK Government’s visa application centres across Asia.

customers waiting at visa clinic
Customers waiting for their turn at the mobile visa clinic at the Embassy

While there is insufficient demand to justify a full UK visa service in Vientiane, the mobile visa clinic, conducted four times a year, provides a cheaper alternative to travelling to Bangkok to submit a UK visa application. Customers arriving at the Embassy today provided their biometric data via digital fingerprint scanners and digital photographs, put their documents in a self-addressed courier envelope and dropped them into a box collecting the applications.

Ambassador Philip Malone personally welcomed Mr Siaosavath Savengsuksa, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Mr Savengsuksa will be travelling to the UK in November together with a group of Lao businessmen and government officials. His wife, Mrs Chanthakhone Savengsuksa will accompany him.

It will be my first time in England. I am excited to get to know your country and its people.

Vice Minister and Ambassador
Vice Minister Siaosavath Savengsuksa greeted by Ambassador Malone

The group’s week-long visit will take them to Bristol for business meetings, followed by some sightseeing in London.

Today’s eldest applicant was Mrs Ouah Bounsombath, age 73, who will visit her daughter, who has lived in Bristol with her British husband and her two children since 2006.

This is the first time I will travel on an airplane. I am very excited and a bit nervous, so I’m happy one of my daughter’s friends who also lives in the UK will come to Laos to accompany me to England. Given the fact that I don’t speak English and have no travel experience I feel lucky that someone will take care of me during my trip.

Visa clinic digital photo
Ouah Bounsombath has her digital photo taken

VFS staff, Ms Jaya Devi Rengasamy and Ms Phakamas Audong, said they were both pleased with the outcome:

Customers came well prepared and we did not encounter any problems. This is only the second time we have conducted a mobile visa clinic in Asia, the first time was last year in East Malaysia, which brought a lot of positive feedback.

Ambassador Malone also voiced his contentment:

We are pleased with today’s turnout. The number of applications shows there is a sizeable interest in the UK. With this new service, we wish to strengthen our relationship with the Lao people. Both countries benefit from closer links in both business and private life. I would like to thank all our customers as well as the staff from VFS Global.

After the mobile visa clinic, all visa applications are sent to the visa processing hub in Bangkok to be assessed by UK Visas and Immigration staff. UK Visas and Immigration aim to process non-settlement visa applications within 15 working days and settlement applications within 12 weeks.

The new mobile visa clinic will be available approximately every 3 months at the British Embassy in Vientiane, the next two being scheduled for 21 November 2013 and 7 February 2014. Customers can apply for a visa to travel to the UK up to 3 months in advance.

Information about the mobile visa clinic in Vientiane and how to apply for a UK visa can be found on the Thai pages of the UK Visas and Immigration website at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/countries/thailand/applying/?langname=UK%20English

submitting visa application
Sithisone Thepphasy, Tax Department official submitting his visa application