Amid declining Coronavirus cases across the world, many countries are now also easing their pandemic related curbs, thereby allowing entry of more people in the country to boost tourism and economy. Amidst all of this, Germany has also relaxed its Schengen visa appointment rules and has centralised its short-term visa processing at its centre in Mumbai.
According to an IANS report, “As a result of centralisation of Schengen visa (short term visa) processing in German Visa Centre Mumbai, we are pleased to inform about… relaxation regarding appointment bookings,” the German embassy said in a statement. This visa is issued in the form of a sticker affixed to the passport of the traveller.
“Appointments can be booked and Schengen visa applications can be submitted in all Visa Application Centres run by VFS (Visa Facilitation Services) Global all over India, regardless of your place of residence,” the statement further read. It also added that if the application centre closest to your home town is already fully booked, citizens should feel free to check for available appointment slots in one of the other major Indian cities.
The embassy made it clear that the relaxations, however, do not apply to applications for national visas (D-visa category) such as student, employment or family reunion visas. A Schengen visa form can be submitted three months prior to the intended travel date. A German Schengen visa costs around 80 euros (Rs 6,700) for adults and 40 euros for minors, while work permits (or visas) cost 75 euros.
Earlier this year, the German National Tourist Office (GNTO) observed a 214 per cent year-on-year increase in Indian tourists arriving in Germany. It also added that India accounted for 9 per cent of European trips and while 55 per cent of Indians visit Germany for leisure, 38 per cent travel for business.
A Schengen visa holder can travel to any member state of the Schengen area for stays of up to 90 days within a period of 180 days for tourism as well as business purposes.
What is Schengen area?
Schengen area signifies a zone where 26 European countries abolished their internal border for the free and unrestricted movement of people, in harmony with common rules for controlling external borders and fighting criminality by strengthening the common judicial system and police cooperation.
It covers most of the EU countries, except Ireland. The countries that are soon to be part of the Schengen area: Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Croatia. Although not members of the EU, countries like Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein are also part of the Schengen zone.
The countries that one can visit with Schengen visa includes Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
(With inputs from agencies)