According to some news reports, France and Italy inaugurated a joint/combined visa application centre on Wednesday, 14th May, 2014, at the Rashbehari connector at Kasba. The consul generals of the two countries, France and Italy sought to draw the attention of and highlight their visa centre and schemes amongst the residents of Kolkata and the neighboring states.
They stated that these visa offices in Kolkata will be kept open for 24 hours and they promised that for the eligible applicants, the visa application process will be accomplished within 24 hours. The centre will actually be run by VFS Global, the agency that has been outsourced the paper work to, by the two consulates. And of course, the primary advantage is that it will enable an applicant to get a visa to either of the two countries without having to go to New Delhi.
Fabrice Etienne, the consul-general of France in Kolkata stated that he expected more and more visitors from the Eastern region to go to France, as there has been a surge in the number of applications from Kolkata. He also added that even movies could be shot there, as was the case with a recent movie produced. He stated that he expected that the people from the eastern region would also think of France as a tourist destination just as they think of Switzerland as a tourist destination, now that a visa processing centre so close by has been opened.
As for students, he stated that graduating from a French institution had its advantages as doing so would entitle such a student to get a five-year multiple entry visa. Cesare Bieller, consul-general of Italy in Kolkata, too highlighted the advantages of the new centre and stated that it is meant for the whole of West Bengal and the neigbouring states. He also stated that he was seeking and hopeful of increased people-to-people contact with the establishment of this visa application office.
Both of the diplomatic officials urged for more ties between India and their countries through trade, tourism, etc.