With effect from May 21.
By The American Bazaar Staff
WASHINGTON, DC: The Embassy of India here announced on Wednesday that they have chosen Cox & Kings Global Services Pvt. Ltd. with their new contract for all Visa/OCI/PIO/Renunciation of Indian Citizenship Certification application support services, thus ending the Embassy and all the Indian Consulates in the US’s relationship with BLS International Ltd.
In a press release, the Embassy announced that BLS would still be in service until May 16th. From that afternoon until the afternoon of May 20, BLS will only accept Emergency Visa applications. From May 21 onward, all applications will go through Cox & Kings.
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Applications that have already been submitted via BLS, and are currently pending, can be checked on the BLS site until May 20. After the following day, all of those pending applications will be transferred to the Cox & Kings database, and can be checked on their website.
For applications sent through the mail, if they are sent on or before May 13 and reach BLS offices on or before May 15, they will be accepted. Otherwise they will have to be re-filed with Cox & Kings. Walk-in applications will BLS will only be permitted until the afternoon of May 16.
BLS has been reeling from the bad publicity it received following an incident in later November last year, in which some 70 passports were stolen from their office in San Francisco (initial reports had the number as low as eight, but it ballooned shortly thereafter).
The robbery prompted the city’s Indian mission to cancel all the missing documentation and coordinate a massive recovery operation and investigation with local law enforcement. It also proved to be a long-term embarrassment for BLS, from which the company evidently has not fully recovered.
There have been numerous complaints of negligence and shoddy work too against BLS International across the country, with community groups sending petitions to the Embassy and the Consulates.
Website details and office locations for Cox & Kings have not yet been announced, but the Embassy of India says that such an announcement will come shortly.
[This story was updated on 5/22/14 to reflect that Indian passport services are still being carried out by BLS International.]