What is the change? The Indian Embassy and consulates in the United States will replace its current outsourcing services provider, BLS International, with a new contractor, Cox & Kings Global Services Pvt Ltd.

What does the change mean? Applicants applying for visas and other consular services in the U.S. may face delays, and should anticipate changes to the process as the new provider takes over.

  • Implementation timeframe: BLS will close its operations May 20 and stop accepting applications with the following time frames: BLS will only accept mailed applications received by BLS by May 15, and in-person applications (including “urgent” applications in San Francisco) until May 16. Only emergency applications will be accepted until the morning of May 20. Applications already submitted can be tracked on the BLS website. It is not yet clear when Cox & Kings will start accepting applications. Note also that BLS will be closed on May 14 for the Budh Purnima holiday.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visas, Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card, People of Indian Origin (PIO) card, and Certificates of Renunciation of Indian Citizenship.
  • Who is affected: All applicants applying for the above consular services in the U.S.
  • Impact on processing times: The handover of services has a high probability of causing significant disruptions and delays in processing.
  • Business impact: Delays in visa applications may interrupt business travel and work assignments.
  • Next steps: Inform BAL of upcoming travel to India and workwith your BAL attorney to plan filings according to the scheduled transfer to the new provider.

Background: The Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C. formally announced the change yesterday in a statement.

“The current Service Provider, BLS International Limited, will be closing all its operations with regard to Visa/OCI/PIO/Renunciation of Indian Citizenship Certificate support services in the evening of 20th May, 2014 at all locations in USA,” according to the Embassy. India also maintains consulates in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, New York and San Francisco.

The current contractor, BLS International, has been India’s provider for less than a year. Its tenure was marred by reports of lost passports, and rumors regarding BLS’ replacement have been circulating for months.

The website and locations of the Cox & Kings offices have yet to be announced, but will be released soon, according to the Indian Embassy.

Below is a chart of the filing schedule during the transition:

Mode of Submission BLS will only accept applications received (not postmarked) by this date Cox & Kings Global Services (CKGS) will only accept applications received after this date – to be confirmed by the Indian government and CKGS
Postal May 15, 2014 May 21, 2014
In Person (Standard) – By appointment only Afternoon of May 16, 2014 May 21, 2014
Urgent (In-Person) – Only in S.F. for U.S. nationals born in the U.S. or India having properly renounced Indian Citizenship Morning of May 16, 2014 May 21, 2014 (Continuation of Urgent Service has not been confirmed.)
Emergency Visa Applications Morning of May 20, 2014 May 21, 2014

BAL Analysis: Employers should plan for delays during the transition and pay close attention to the deadlines in the period leading up to the May 21 handover. Pending applications submitted to BLS can be tracked online at the BLS website until May 20. The new provider has yet to launch its website or provide any instructions regarding the process.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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