Just two days before going on holiday to Germany a Dubai resident was waiting at the VFS Global centre in Wafi Mall, to collect her passport (hopefully with the Schengan visa stamp on it).
“This is cutting it too close. It has been so stressful. We applied 4 weeks ago, but it hasn’t helped. We have been monitoring the VFS Global website to check the status of the application,” she said, requesting anonymity.
Another traveler, whose daughter needed to renew her Canadian visa had to wait 6 weeks. After numerous follow-up calls through VFS Global, she got her daughter’s visa a day before they were set to travel.
“It’s not like I applied late. It has been such a stressful experience. Both me and my husband have valid Canadian visas and were travelling on a family holiday, but this entire process has been stressful. It was a close call,” said the Indian national, who did not wish to be named.
In an e-mail interview with Emirates24|7, Srinarayan Sankaran, COO- Middle East & Head – Business Development at VFS Global said, “Usually, during peak season, we expand capacity so as to take in as many applications based on the Embassy/Consulate’s capacity to process applications.
“We also increase our submission timings and have services like Prime Time and after Iftaar submission timings during Ramadan (where we maintain extended working hours so that applicants can submit applications in the evening), based on demand.”
He added, that “VFS Global does not influence the visa decision or the turnaround times for visa issuance”.
“I’m travelling to Portugal next week and the whole visa process was stressful. We applied over 4 weeks ago, and even though the VFS website clearly states 15-20 calendar days for processing, it has taken us so long,” recalled Neal Abraham, a Dubai resident.
“My wife had to finally contact the Portugal Embassy in Abu Dhabi directly to sort out the visa delay.”
A call centre agent of the same organisation added that most centres were clearing files based on travel dates.
The summer rush is evident at passport collection points at the VFS Global centre in Wafi as many expats opt for collection over courier service.
An Indian traveller who was at the centre to collect his passport had to wait over 3 hours, as there was a delay in transferring the documents from Abu Dhabi.
VFS Global also suffered a technical snag in their email and mobile text notification, leading to worried applicants. “I didn’t know the status of my application and had to constantly contact their call centre for updates, which was tiring,” said Neeta (name changed upon request).
Sankaran confirmed there was a problem. “A few weeks ago, we faced some technical issues which impacted the SMS and email notifications in a few cases.
The issue was resolved as soon as it was brought to our notice.”
According to him, “Most Schengen countries, UK, Canada, Australia continue to be popular destinations for travellers out of the UAE.”
Tips for travellers
“Keeping in mind the increased travel during the peak vacation season, travellers should plan ahead and get their documents like itinerary, tickets, insurance and other required documents ready, and book appointments, well in advance,” detailed Sankaran.
“VFS Global websites/ call centres have country-specific information on guidelines and requirements, and applicants are encouraged to refer to them closely.”