Pent-up demand for travel across the globe is leading to an unprecedented rise in visa applications, according to a visa outsourcing company.
“In UAE, as of November 2022, we recorded a 25 per cent increase in application numbers over 2019 — with the peak travel season extending well beyond the traditional summer months,” Monaz Billimoria, Deputy Regional Head – UAE, VFS Global, told Gulf News.
Travel from the UAE to popular destinations is expected to rise further, Billimoria added. VFS Global is the world's largest visa outsourcing and tech service specialist for governments and diplomatic missions.
Advice for Schengen visa applicants
For Schengen visa applicants, Billimoria offers the following advice: “Most countries accept visa applications up to 90 days in advance — with Schengen countries accepting documents up to 6 months prior to the date of travel. We (constantly) urge applicants to apply for their visas well in advance to avoid any delays.”
She also urged travellers to check the relevant government websites for the latest visa processing timelines.
A rise in the number of visa requests from people entering countries in the European bloc have been reported by SchengenVisaInfo.com.
According to the site, applications for Schengen visas currently takes about a month to complete, particularly for popular travel destinations like France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Switzerland, and Sweden.
Even if processing times have slowed down at many embassies and consulates, the sheer volume of applications may cause longer-than-usual application processes, it added.
On January 31, 2023, the European Parliament approved a digitisation scheme that may do away with the requirement that applicants submit a physical visa application or have the visa stamped on their passport.
Travelling to the UK, with EU stopover
For those travelling to the UK with stopover in EU member states, Billimoria said: “Airport transit visa requirements differ from country to country based on the traveller’s nationality and purpose of visit.” She urged all applicants to refer to the relevant Embassy/Consulate’s website for relevant details.
Turnaround timelines for visas?
Each country has a different timeline for its visa processing. During peak season visa processing can take longer than anticipated, hence would-be travellers are urged to apply early as each application is unique and thus the processing time may differ for each case.