VFS Global
Atul Marwah, Chief Operating Officer - MENA, VFS Global Image Credit: Supplied

Over the last decade, the boom in international travel has been unparalleled. What was once a luxury is now a necessity - to take a break, explore new destinations, immerse in new cultures. Even for business travellers, the world has become glocal, and crossing borders for meetings and events has become the norm for building stronger networks.

It will take some time to forget the months it took for borders to our favourite destinations to reopen.

Post-pandemic the demand for international travel has been unprecedented, leading to higher volumes of applications than ever seen before.

Hazy days and school breaks make summer the perfect time to plan a getaway, leading to high demand for international travel, especially from the Middle East. With the Eid Al Adha holidays coinciding with the summer season, we are seeing an increased demand for visas ahead of it. The geographic location of UAE allows citizens and residents to enjoy proximity and accessibility to most of the world’s favourite destinations, putting international travel in high demand for all holidays.

The summer of 2023 has already seen increased volumes of visa applications, with no signs of slowing down. While the industry expected a slow but resilient recovery post-pandemic, revenge travel has significantly changed the scenario.

Our Visa Application Centres have started seeing an unprecedented increase in daily visa applications counts, leading to limited visa appointment availability and stretched timelines on visa decisions. Travellers now need to be more cognizant of the need to apply for their visas well in advance of their travel. Most countries accept visa applications up to 90 days (3 months) before one's date of travel, with Schengen permitting applications up to 6 months before your date of travel.

For those looking for an enhanced application experience, our Visa At Your Doorstep service for at-home visa solutions, and Premium and Platinum Lounges at our Visa Application Centres, are available as optional services for select destinations, subject to online appointment confirmations.

We also request all applicants to beware of entities who promise early appointments for an additional fee as these are fraudulent. Appointments are available on our website as per the daily capacity, and are free of charge.

In conclusion, applying in advance is the key. When we plan our travels, we always book flights, hotels and attractions in advance and leave visas for the last minute. Why? Plan ahead, book your appointment, and submit your application as early as the destination allows.

- The writer is the Chief Operating Officer - MENA, VFS Global