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British Consulate, Vienna (Visas)

Volume 342: debated on Monday 5 December 1938

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asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, owing to the great demand for visas at the British Consulate in Vienna, the staff and the premises are quite inadequate to cope with the large number of applicants, and that the Consulate is only open on two days of the week and can only deal with 40 persons on any one day; and what steps is he taking to expedite the issue of visas?

Visa applications at Vienna are dealt with by the Passport Control Officer, whose staff has been increased from four to twenty-six and who has been provided with larger premises to deal with the great increase in the volume of work. It is not a fact that the office is open on only two days a week and can deal with only 40 persons per day. The office is open for six days a week, but it has been found convenient to classify the types of application and to deal with them on different days according to category. I will, with the permission of the right hon. Gentleman, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement showing the detailed arrangements at this office, which my Noble Friend trusts will meet the situation.

Is it not the case that queues are formed all night long outside the Consulate; and have the arrangements in Berlin been changed in view of the fact that the centre of Berlin has now been closed to Jews?

We have tried to improve the situation in Berlin also. As regards Vienna I am aware that there has been congestion, and, as I have said, I am circulating a report of the steps which have been taken to try to meet it.

Is it proposed to move the Consulate in Berlin since it is now in an area which is prohibited to Jews?

With regard to Berlin, I should have notice as the question on the Paper relates to Vienna.

Following is the statement:

Members of the general public submitting new applications are dealt with on Tuesdays and Fridays; persons holding Ministry of Labour permits or in respect of whom authority has been given in the United Kingdom for the grant of visas are dealt with on Mondays and Thursdays, while Wednesdays and Saturdays are reserved for Special appointments, applications by post and general correspondence. On the days when the office is open to the general public the normal hours are 9.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m., but these hours are elastic and every effort is made to assist applicants. In the afternoons of those days when the office is open to the public in the morning the staff is fully occupied in dealing with the applications submitted.