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Visa on time: Embassies work to meet spike in applications by Indians

By Aneesh Phadnis
June 21, 2022 15:14 IST
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Visa delays have perturbed Indian visitors this summer. But a solution could be in sight soon, as embassies gear up to address the challenges caused by a spike in applications and staff shortages.

Visa

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

While the British High Commission has said it is working urgently to reduce the current visa processing time, the German Embassy has introduced extra shifts to process more visas.

 

However, appointments with the latter are fully booked till August-end due to high volumes.

Processing of standard UK visitor visas is taking an average of six weeks with increasing demand due to the end of travel restrictions.

The UK is also prioritising Ukraine visa scheme applications in response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the Russian invasion.

“Indian students make up one of the UK’s largest groups of international students, and Indian professionals are the top nationality in the skilled visa category.

"This is why the UK has its largest network of visa application centres globally in India and we are continuing to process priority and super-priority visit visa service here — despite it being paused elsewhere.

"We are working urgently to reduce the current processing time as quickly as possible,” the British High Commission said in a statement.

It declined to share details about steps taken to reduce the processing time.

The high commission also said it has advised students to apply as early as possible as usually there is a significant volume of such visa applications in July-August.

“We are working with the education sector and commercial partners to get this important message to students,” the high commission said.

“To date, several thousand Schengen visas have been processed by the German embassy and consulates in India.

"Many of them are trade fair visitors and exhibitors. This is followed by business people, family visitors and tourists.

"The German embassy introduced extra shifts to process more visas at the same time.

"Due to high demand, the waiting times are longer than normal,” the German embassy said.

It added that all appointments for Schengen visas are fully booked until the end of August and dates for September will be released in the beginning of July.

On Monday, the Norwegian Embassy tweeted that it was experiencing a surge in visa applications and advised travellers to apply early.

“We are working overtime to ensure that the surge is met,” said Martine Aamdal Bottheim, chargé d’affaires of the Norwegian Embassy in Delhi.

The Embassy of Denmark in New Delhi, which has been forced to suspend new visa appointments from July 1, is hiring extra staff to address the challenge.

“There is a huge increase in demand post-Covid pandemic.

"We are hiring visa officers to increase our capacity. Hopefully, the situation will ease after summer,” said Danish ambassador Freddy Svane.

He added that embassies were facing the challenge of visa delays around the world.

Svane said it is important for applicants to understand visa requirements before purchasing tickets and added that visas are not granted automatically to all.

According to a VFS Global spokesperson, there has been an unprecedented uptick in outbound travel demand from India this summer.

“As a result, we are experiencing high volumes of visa applications coupled with limited appointment availability and stretched processing timelines.

"On an average, VFS Global is receiving approximately 20,000 applications from India in a day, which is close to the volumes recorded during the pre-pandemic peak season,” he said.

On Friday, the Netherlands embassy in Delhi tweeted that due to heavy demand priority appointments can be facilitated for political, economic or humanitarian interests.

Other requests for earlier appointments will not be facilitated until further notice, it said.

Last week, the Outbound Tour Operators Association of India flagged concerns faced by Indian tourists with embassies and consulates of various European countries in Delhi.

This includes a long wait for visa appointments and 4-5 weeks of further wait to get their passports back.

“The outbound agents are losing revenue and clients because of visa delays and we would humbly request the consulates to look into the problem on a priority basis and take immediate action,” said association president Riaz Munshi.

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Aneesh Phadnis in Mumbai
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