Dubai: A Dh103 service charge will be levied on applicants at the new Netherlands visa application centre as the process has been outsourced to a private company. The charge will be added on top of the Dh240 fee for a normal tariff Schengen visa when applying for short-stay visas processed at the VFS Global Centre in Wafi Mall.

It means applicants will pay a total of Dh343 for the service.

“Applicants applying at the Netherlands Visa Application Centre shall be levied a service charge of Dh103 payable in cash,” VFS Global says online.

Ajit Alexander, COO, Middle East and Africa, VFS Global, confirmed that “over and above the visa fee of Dh240, the applicant would have to pay VFS service charge of Dh103”.

However, applicants stand to benefit from quicker service as the application process has been outsourced, reducing the workload on the Netherlands missions, Alexander added.

Schengen visas for 10 European countries are now handled at the Dubai centre, with Netherlands becoming the latest to join the list.

The Schengen Visa Application Centre of VFS Global, an outsourcing service provider, is located in Wafi Mall.

Netherlands joins Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland at this centre. On Wednesday, officials announced that Netherlands visa applications will now be handled by VFS.

The service was inaugurated by Robert De Leeuw, Consul General, Consulate General of the Kingdom of Netherlands, and Alexander.

De Leeuw said: “Although we have always welcomed and enjoyed working with our clients directly at the Dutch missions in the UAE, the demand for visas for the Netherlands, including the Caribbean part of the Kingdom, has increased rapidly and therefore we have decided that outsourcing is a win-win situation.”

Alexander said the Netherlands consulate in Dubai catered to close to 7,000 visa applications in 2014. “By virtue of this new development, the expectation is that the number of applications could increase and even double,” he added.

VFS will provide service for all short-stay visitor visas to the Schengen country. It will be responsible only for acceptance of applications and return delivery of passports and documents. All applications will be assessed and processed by Netherlands officials as routine. Timelines for turnaround of visas will be at the discretion of the authorities.

There will be tracking of application status and SMS alerts for visa status updates on mobile phones of applicants.

Also, a “prime time” appointment service will allow applicants to lodge their applications beyond the normal processing hours. Other services include a Premium Lounge Service and doorstep delivery of passports.