NEW DELHI: A sharp revival in post-Omicron demand for international travel has led to massive delays in visa processing — right from seeking appointment slot to give biometrics, submit the paperwork and then getting passports back. The problem is particularly severe with the Schengen states, US and some other countries as foreign consulates are yet to ramp up staff strength back to pre-2020 levels. VFS Global COO (South Asia) Prabuddha Sen says while his company “has been extremely proactive”, the “seasonality of travel” has shifted now. Excerpts:
Why is visa processing for so many countries facing such delays?
(There has been a) massive 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 consulates in India gear up for this situation?
We have been extremely proactive in restarting operations. We have over 540 Visa Application Centres (VACs) in India, serving the interests of 51 client governments across 17 cities. Visa processing timelines depends on the visa categories and differs from government to government. Over the past couple of weeks many embassies and diplomatic missions have proactively addressed the issue and urged applicants to apply early and in time to be able to catch their flights.
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