Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

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Processing over 20,000 applications daily: VFS Global COO on the current visa backlog

3 min read
US Visa renewal

Visa Backlog: A sharp restoration in post-Omicron demand for international travel has led to enormous delays in visa processing — right from looking for appointment slots to giving biometrics, submitting the paperwork, and then getting passports back. The issue is especially severe with the Schengen states, the US, and a few different nations as foreign consulates are yet to increase staff strength back to pre-2020 levels.

Why is visa processing for so many nations facing such delays? | Visa Backlog

(There has been a) the huge spike in visa demand. We’re experiencing unprecedented volumes — between 20,000 to 23,000 visa applications daily on an average from India given the pent-up travel demand. This was 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 anticipated, and this is common across all geographies and across all governments.

How did VFS and offices in India prepare for this present circumstance?

We have been extremely proactive in restarting operations. We have over 540 Visa Application Centers (VACs) in India, serving the interests of 51 client governments across 17 cities. Visa processing timelines depend on the visa categories and vary from one government to another. Over the recent weeks, numerous embassies and diplomatic missions have proactively resolved the issue and asked candidates to apply early so as to have the option to get their flights.

Candidates gripe in any event, getting an arrangement for VFS Global biometrics is extreme. Remarks.

Limited availability of appointments is again attributed to high demand exceeding supply. VFS Global gives appointments through a transparent and secure appointment management system. On a first-come-first-serve service (and) allocated according to directives from client governments. Travelers who were early in planning have seamlessly got appointments. This peak season is unique in relation to the ones pre-pandemic and last year. We encountered that the seasonality has also shifted towards travel plans in the lean August-September period. All through the entire second half of 2021, we have experienced travel demand.

How should explorers respond?

It is recommended to apply for visas as soon as booking flights and stay. Most nations accept visa applications up to 3 months (90 days) before your date of travel. As indicated by the revised Schengen Visa Code, successful 2nd February 2020. You can apply for a Schengen visa up to 6 months before your date of travel. Especially this year with higher demand and restricted appointment slots available. We urge candidates to apply for their visas as soon as could be expected.

[USCIS to speed up H-1B visa processing]

Could individuals seek the return of their passport to travel on the visas they now have while their application for a new visa is being processed?

In case a passport, having a valid visa to another destination, gets stuck with a diplomatic mission. We at VFS Global have processes in place to help in withdrawing the passport as and when required. However, since there is a dependency on the diplomatic mission concerned and the location of the candidate opposite the strategic mission presence. We ask candidates to plan well in advance to not face last-minute surprises.

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