Getting a visa to travel abroad can be a nightmare, especially if you want to visit the EU, Canada, Australia, or the United Kingdom, as visa processing for these countries currently takes significantly longer.
The situation has arisen as almost all the countries have lifted Covid-related travel restrictions and resumed scheduled international flights, and a lot of Indian travellers are gearing up to travel abroad.
Several countries, including the United Kingdom, Unites States, Canada, Australia and most EU countries are delaying visas due to a high volume of applications, which mainly affects students and tourists.
Here are some instances of visa delays experienced by Indian travellers.
- Schengen Visa: All appointments for Schengen visas (business, tourist and visitor visas, trade fair visitors and exhibitors) are fully booked or already overbooked until mid-September.
- UK Visa: The visa processing time for the United Kingdom has increased to 4-10 weeks.
- Visit visas, including standard visitor visa applications, are currently taking on average 7 weeks to process, however, some applications might take longer.
- Transit visa applications are currently taking on average 6 weeks to process.
- Most work and investment visas, including skilled worker visa applications, are currently taking on average 4 weeks to process.
- Germany Visa: Germany no longer accepts permanent residency visas.
- Greece and Spain: The Visa processing time for Greece and Spain can be as long as six to eight weeks.
- US Visa: The US Embassy, which recently announced the resumption of in-person visa appointments for Tourist Visas and Visitor Visa B1, and B2 beginning in September, stated that slots in cities like Delhi and Mumbai are completely booked until April 2023.
- Italy and Iceland: Visa appointments are currently unavailable for Italy or Iceland
What is the reason for the visa processing delay? And what can you do to better your trip planning? Here’s everything you need to know.
Reasons for Visa Processing Delays!
The primary reason for the delay is a shortage of embassy personnel due to the coronavirus pandemic; a massive backlog of pending applications; a huge surge in demand for tourist visas, and tighter visa-granting protocols.
1. Huge Surge In Demand
With the return of scheduled flights to the United Kingdom, the United States, Europe, and Canada, and the opening of the international border, outbound travel demand has skyrocketed. Furthermore, many students and working professionals had returned to India as a result of the COVID pandemic, and they intend to return when countries reopen.
2 Shortage of Staff
Following the COVID-19 incident, many embassies in India temporarily stopped visa processing and officials returned to their home countries. Embassies have difficulty rehiring officials who previously worked for them now that these offices have reopened.
3. Stricter Rules For Visa
Some countries have tightened visa requirements in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. A few extra checks, such as vaccination certificate verification, are now part of the visa application process, leading to delays in visa processing.
What can you do to ensure that your visa arrives on time?
1. Apply In Advance
There is nothing you can do if you have already applied for a visa; however, if you have not yet applied, experts advise applicants to plan their travel 90 days in advance, giving enough time to process visas.
According to VFS, “Most countries accept visa applications up to three months in advance. According to the revised Schengen visa code, one can apply for a Schengen visa up to six months before the date of travel.“
2. Book Flight Tickets After Receiving the Visa
If this is not possible, we advised that applicants may book their flight tickets after receiving the visa to avoid high ticket change/cancellation fees.
3. Apply Under Priority Services
Applicants for the UK visa can choose between ‘Priority Service’ and ‘Super-Priority Service’ to get their visa faster and on time.
The ‘priority service’ tends to result in a decision within five days of the interview, while the ‘super priority service’ results in a decision within one working day. This is available for an additional 500 pounds (approximately ₹48,000) and 800 pounds (approximately ₹77,000).