Depending on nationality, every person wishing to enter the Schengen countries or the US for whatever purpose is subject to a visa regime. But delays in processing the same have increased, with a massive backlog of applications and appointments.
According to the Economic Times report on Tuesday, the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) said it will write to the embassies concerned on the matter.
“We have spoken to VFS, the embassies, and the ministry of external affairs (MEA) and it is becoming a huge challenge. We will officially write to all European countries on the matter,” said Jyoti Mayal, president of TAAI.
“We are hearing countries such as Greece have not returned traveller passports for over two months. There is a huge pending demand for the US as well. The situation is getting worse, and this is the peak summer tourist season.”
In May, Jay Bhatia, TAAI, vice-president, said visas for Europe are getting extended by up to one month as some Schengen embassies are not operating at full capacity.
VFS Global, which manages visa and passport issuance-related administrative and non-discretionary tasks, said it is experiencing high volumes of applications and stretched visa processing timelines from India.
The company is receiving about 20,000 applications in a day from India and is adequately staffed to process, the ET report said quoting the company spokesperson.
The spokesperson said information on visa decision processing timelines is provided by the client governments on their websites, the report added.
According to Schengen visa website, the earliest one can file a visa application is six months, and the latest being fifteen working days.
On May 30, the US embassy said it will resume routine in-person tourist visa appointments from September onwards.
“Applicants whose placeholder appointments were cancelled may now reenter the scheduling system to book regular appointments. Appointments have been opened through 2023,” the US embassy tweeted.
Earlier, travel platforms said the issue has been flagged with concerned European embassies and consulates, but the discussions did not yield any “concrete results”, the report said. Companies are advising travellers to plan their holidays in advance to avoid last-minute visa disappointments.
“Travellers to the UK, US, Canada and other European countries are the worst affected. Regular tourist visas for countries like the UK take over 45 days. Wherever we see some scope of getting an early visa for some country, we are prioritising applying to that country first and are changing itineraries accordingly. Embassies are not openly admitting but staff shortage is the main issue here,” Rajiv Mehra, president of Indian Association of Tour Operators, told the ET.