Schengen Visa Applications Surge by 44%, Creates Interview Slot Shortages

Indian travellers are flocking to Europe, with Schengen visa applications spiking by 44% last year. However, limited appointment slots are causing frustration and travel disruptions. New regulations offer a sigh of relief with easier access to long-term, multi-year visas for frequent Indian visitors.
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Indian travellers eager to explore Europe this summer are facing challenges due to a surge in Schengen visa applications and limited appointment slots.

According to recent data, India witnessed a significant increase in Schengen visa applications last year, with a 44% jump compared to the previous year. This surge placed India as the second-highest country in terms of application growth, trailing only China.

Lack of Appointments

However, the excitement of exploring Europe is dampened by the lack of available interview slots for visa processing. “Appointments are simply not available with most Schengen countries,” said Anil Kalsi, Vice President of the Travel Agents Federation of India.

“For summer travel, the earliest appointments for Germany and Italy are in July. This is causing significant difficulties for travellers.”

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This lack of appointments leads to frustrations for both applicants and travel agents. Cancelled trips and financial burdens due to non-refundable travel arrangements add to the woes. “Not getting a visa on time translates to hefty cancellation charges for travellers,” Kalsi added.

Also Read: Exploring Europe: New Schengen Visa Rules and Tourism Taxes

Planning in Advance

Visa processing agencies like VFS Global emphasize that visa decisions are made by individual embassies and consulates, and timelines can vary. They advise travellers to plan well in advance to avoid last-minute surprises.

Most countries accept visa applications up to 90 days before the travel date, and recent changes in the Schengen Visa Code now allow applications up to six months prior.

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Despite these measures, the shortage of visa interview slots continues to be a major issue for Indian travellers. Additionally, the EU’s policy of issuing short-term visas to frequent visitors has further complicated the situation.

Long-Term Visas for Frequent Travellers

While the appointment backlog remains a hurdle, recent changes offer a glimmer of hope for Indian travellers. The European Commission introduced new visa rules specifically designed for Indian nationals, making it easier to obtain long-term, multi-year Schengen visas.

This revised framework, known as the “visa cascade” regime, allows Indian residents to obtain multiple-entry Schengen visas valid for up to two years.

This eases travel restrictions for frequent visitors, who can now enjoy the flexibility of travelling freely within the Schengen zone for short stays (up to 90 days in any 180 days) across 29 European countries.

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Also Read: Europe Goes Digital: Online Schengen Visa Application Process Coming Soon!

Conclusion

While the surge in Schengen visa applications reflects a growing interest among Indians to travel to Europe, the challenges posed by the lack of interview slots and the EU’s short-term visa policy remain significant.

The European Commission’s new regulations aim to alleviate some of these issues, offering Indian travellers the opportunity for more extended and frequent visits to Europe.

(With Inputs from Times of India)

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Manish Khandelwal
Manish Khandelwal

Manish Khandelwal, a travel-tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience in the travel industry. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Travelobiz.com, he's passionate about writing.

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