As of 25 March 2014, UK visa applications which were previously being made at the visa application desk at the British High Commission in Kigali will need to be made at a new Visa Application Centre operated by Teleperformance, as the UK government continues to contract commercial partners to assist with visa processing. In this instance, the UK government is working with Teleperformance (operating as FedEx) in order to try to improve the way in which visa services are delivered in Rwanda. It is hoped that by working alongside commercial partners, many benefits will be achieved such as more efficient processing, better customer service and expedited premium and priority services.
Unfortunately, due to the way in which visa applications are now to be made in Kigali, an additional fee is being introduced to the majority of applications. This fee is currently priced at £59 (approximately 66,900 RWF at the current exchange rate). The UK government feels this fee is necessary in order to fund the operation of the new centre, but will also mean that many applications can be returned directly to the applicant via courier. One group which will be exempt from this additional charge is those who currently hold diplomatic passports. Such passport holders will not have to pay the additional charge, and will also not need to pay the standard application fee, or provide biometric data. Diplomatic passports are usually held by civil servants who may need to visit the UK for official government reasons.
Despite the change of location, the way in which visa applications are processed in Rwanda remains the same. All applications made in Kigali are sent to the Decision Making Centre in Nairobi, Kenya where Entry Clearance Officers (ECO) make a decision on whether or not the visa will be granted, or if additional information is needed. When a decision has been made, the application will then be returned either directly to the applicant via courier, or to the Visa Application Centre. It should be noted, therefore, that staff in the actual Visa Application Centre do not play a part in whether an application is granted or not, they are simply there to receive applications and advise accordingly.
Some applicants may understandably be unhappy at an additional charge being introduced, however this is not unique to Rwanda and is the same at other centres around the world. The additional charge has been introduced in order to be able to outsource to a commercial company; a move which is designed to ultimately provide a better service for applicants.
The new Visa Application Centre is located at Blue Star House Plot no. 1236, Boulevard de l’Umuganda, Kacyiru Sector, Gasabo District, Kigali, Rwanda. Current opening hours for the centre are Monday to Friday, 08:00 – 12:30.