Now, plan your trip with new rules for Schengen visas

World without end

Published - February 20, 2020 01:26 pm IST

Making it easy  Starting this month, travellers can apply for a Schengen visa six months in advance

Making it easy Starting this month, travellers can apply for a Schengen visa six months in advance

Waiting for a visa to arrive can sometimes suck the joy out of a holiday. Especially when it is a little too close to the date of departure. While most Schengen countries had a three-month submission period for its applicants, now, starting February 2, 2020, travellers can apply for a visa six months in advance. Which means you can start booking those spectacular accommodations for a better price in advance rather than having to nervously wait and watch the prices shoot up.

At a recent conference organised by VFS Global, Pranav Sinha, regional head, West and South India, Maldives and Sri Lanka, VFS Global, highlighted the organisation’s journey, since its inception in Mumbai in 2001. World over, it works with 64 client governments, and operates out of 150 countries, with 3,425 application centres. “The first client government was the US,” he says. The first Schengen governments on board were France and Italy. The recent additions to the organisation’s India portfolio include visa services for Nigeria, Lithuania, Belarus, Bulgaria and Poland.

“Currently, VFS is present in 17 Indian cities. We are starting in Coimbatore in March with visas for Germany,” adds Sinha. In addition, VFS offices around the country are signing up with other governments. For example, in Bhopal, it will soon start handling applications for Polish visas.

“VFS helps ease the queue outside embassies,” says Sinha, adding, “We manage administrative and non-judgemental tasks related to visa, passport and consular, identity and citizen services.” Other than services such as the premium lounge, VFS also offers Visa At Your Doorstep, a service where the official comes home to collect documents and conduct the biometrics. This is for people travelling to countries such as Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Italy, France, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Germany, and the UK. Of course, these come at a higher price and it differs from country to country.

During peak holiday seasons, there are facilities such as VFS Prime Time that allows customers to apply in the off-peak evening hours for an extra charge. These services are available in Chennai for Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia and the UK visa customers, besides Saturday appointments for Canada and France visa customers.

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