A quick guide to visas
The world is on the move again after nearly two years of lockdown and travel restrictions. As many countries open their international borders and ease travel restrictions, many travelers around the world are planning international travel.
VFS Global, the world’s largest specialist in outsourcing and technology services for governments and diplomatic missions around the world, has put together a quick visa guide for travelers planning Eid Al Adha and summer holidays .
- What is the role of VFS Global in the visa process?
We manage administrative and non-judgmental tasks related to visa, passport and consular, identity and citizen services applications for the governments in our client portfolio. This allows diplomatic missions (i.e. embassies/consulates) to efficiently manage their time and resources and focus on the critical task of assessing visa applications and making decisions on granting. or not a visa.
- What do the top visa application trends look like?
With the opening of international borders and the reduction of covid restrictions, we have seen good demand from travellers. The number of visa applications increased significantly after the first quarter of 2022 and in the second and third quarters we expect the return of approximately 85% of the pre-pandemic counts. Demand for our optional premium service, Visa at Your Doorstep, has also doubled since pre-pandemic times due to the increased convenience it brings to the applicant.
- If I’m traveling to the UK with a stopover in EU member states, do I need a Schengen airport transit visa?
Yes, the Schengen airport transit visa is mandatory for stopover travelers. This requirement has existed for many years.
- How far in advance of my travel dates should I apply for my visa?
When planning your trips, you always book flights and hotels in advance. Do the same for visas.
Most countries accept visa applications up to 90 days (3 months) before your travel date. According to the revised Schengen Visa Code, effective February 2, 2020, you can apply for a Schengen visa up to 6 months before your travel date. Particularly this year with higher demand and limited appointment slots available, we urge applicants to apply for their visa as soon as possible.
- What are typical turnaround times for visas?
Each country has a different timeline for processing their visa, and these timelines are mentioned on the VFS Global websites, providing you with the necessary information to apply for your visa well in advance. Be aware that during peak season, visa processing may take longer than expected, so apply early. Each request is unique and therefore the processing time may differ for each case.
- What is the scheduling process at VFS Global?
Appointment slots are offered online based on demand or forecast volume, and in conjunction with the Embassy’s own internal capacity planning. Once scheduled, we strongly recommend that you be at the center 15 minutes before the agreed time so as not to miss your slot. Dates are free, beware of scammers selling dates for money. We urge applicants not to pay for the appointments offered.
- I’m confused about the documentation, which varies depending on who I ask! What are the correct documents to submit?
A checklist of documents required for visa applications for each country served by VFS Global is available on our website. Make sure you have all the required documents with you, including a printed version of the checklist, to be submitted with the completed application form. Check the validity of your passport and your Emirates identity card. Many countries require a passport valid for six months after your return date.
- How do I track the status of my application?
Once your application has been submitted, you can follow the progress of your application online through the VFS Global website. Moreover, you can opt for SMS service and receive timely updates on your mobile phone.
The status will be updated as your passport is ready for collection/delivery. Please be aware that VFS Global cannot track your application during the assessment process within an Embassy or Consulate.
- Can VFS Global advise and guide me on visa categories and vaccination?
VFS Global is strictly not authorized to provide advice or guidance on visa category or any other visa requirements the client may require. VFS Global only manages the administrative and non-judgmental aspects of the visa process, such as visa application submission and biometric enrollment. VFS Global does not comment on vaccine requirements. All travelers are advised to check destination/transit country guidelines for the same.
- Can I speed up the process? Does using any of the value added services guarantee a faster visa outcome?
The visa processing time differs from mission to mission. Please check turnaround times before applying.
Opting for optional value-added services (such as Prime Time Services or Form-filling, or any other service) does not guarantee a faster or more positive decision by the relevant Embassy/Consulate. Optional and value-added services are available to certain client governments only, subject to service level agreements with those governments.
– Monaz Billimoria, Deputy Regional Manager – UAE and Qatar, VFS Global