VISA: There has been a massive spike in visa demand: VFS Global COO | India Business News

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VFS Global COO (South Asia) Prabuddha Sen

NEW DELHI: A strong uptick in post-Omicron demand for international travel has led to massive delays in visa processing – from making an appointment to provide biometrics, filing paperwork and recovering passports. The problem is particularly serious with the Schengen States, the US and some other countries, as foreign consulates have yet to increase staff numbers to pre-2020 levels. VFS Worldwide COO (South Asia) Prabuddha Sen says that while his company has been “extremely proactive”, the “seasonality of travel” has now shifted. fragments:
Why are visa processing for so many countries facing such delays?
(There is a) huge spike in the demand for visas. We are experiencing unprecedented volumes – between 20,000 and 23,000 visa applications from India daily, given the pent-up travel demand. This was to be expected with the gradual opening of international borders, easing of travel restrictions and resumption of regular international flights from India. During peak season, visa processing can take longer than expected and this is common in all regions and governments.
How have VFS and consulates in India prepared for this situation?
We have been extremely proactive in restarting operations. We have more than 540 Visa Application Centers (VACs) in India, serving the interests of 51 client governments in 17 cities. Visa processing timelines depend on visa categories and differ from government to government. In recent weeks, many embassies and diplomatic missions have proactively addressed the issue and urged applicants to apply early and on time to catch their flights.
Applicants complain that even getting an appointment for biometrics from VFS Global is difficult. Comments.
The limited availability of appointments is again attributed to high demand that exceeds supply. VFS Global provides appointments through a transparent and secure appointment management system on a first come, first served basis(s) assigned according to customer government guidelines. Travelers who were early in the schedule got appointments seamlessly. This peak season is different from pre-pandemic and last year we experienced that seasonality has also shifted to travel plans during the lean August-September period. Throughout the second half of 2021, we experienced a travel demand.
What would travelers to do?
It is recommended to apply for a visa already when booking flights and accommodation. Most countries accept visa applications up to 90 days (3 months) before your travel date. According to the revised Schengen Visa Code, which takes effect on February 2, 2020, you can apply for a Schengen visa up to 6 months before your travel date. This year in particular, with increased demand and limited appointment places, we urge applicants to apply for their visa as early as possible.
Can people reclaim their passports to travel with the visas they already have while their new visa application is pending?
In the event that a passport, with a valid visa for another destination, gets stuck with a diplomatic mission, at VFS Global we have processes in place to assist with passport revocation as and when needed. However, as there is dependence on the diplomatic mission involved and the applicant’s location relative to the diplomatic mission’s presence, we urge applicants to plan well in advance to avoid last minute surprises. stand.
The student travel season is approaching. What measures, if any, are being taken to minimize delays for them?
We recommend that students apply early to avoid any last minute rush. Often, client governments are proactive in reducing student visa volumes. Also, visa-issuing authorities in several countries are coming under pressure from education boards to ensure timely visa issuance to prospective students so that students can start taking their designated courses in a timely manner. For example, last year the High Commission of Canada launched a special queuing system for biometric appointments for prospective students.

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