The VFS Global office at Wafi mall in Dubai. Clicking on a hot holiday deal without a valid visa to that country is the most common mistake people make and must avoid. Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman /Gulf News

Dubai: Low-cost holiday packages are hard to resist especially if you have a few hours left in the promo to book.

But before you snap that summer deal or Eid Al Adha package, make sure you have the visa to your country of destination or the lead time necessary to apply for it before your trip.

The timely reminder has come from VFS Global after some residents had to cancel their trip to Europe when they realised they couldn’t get a visa in time for their trip.

Clicking on a hot holiday deal without a valid visa to that country is the most common mistake people make and must avoid.

Vinay Malhotra, regional group COO — Middle East, South Asia and China, VFS Global, said residents should plan their trips well, not only their itineraries, but especially the visa requirements to their destination during peak travel season.

“April to August are the busy months of the year with June to August especially bearing the maximum weightage. This is because most of the people are travelling during school holidays, Eid holidays or simply escaping the summer heat,” Malhotra told Gulf News.

“Be it peak or off season, the total number of applications to be processed at the centres is solely at the discretion of the client government that VFS Global serves. During 2018, over 68,000 Schengen visa applications were processed between April to August from the UAE.”

Three-month allowance

Malhotra advised residents to allot a 90-day lead time before their trip to Schengen countries during peak season for their own convenience. “Expatriate residents in the UAE are advised to plan their travel itinerary and visa application as early as three months prior to the planned departure date to avoid delays in processing entry permits to Schengen countries during the peak season,” he said.

With the huge volume of visa applicants, waiting time for availability of appointments with VFS Global go up to three to four weeks. The number of appointment slots are controlled and determined by the Schengen countries’ embassies or consulates. The processing time and decision to grant visas are also the sole prerogative of the missions.

“The processing time is between a few days and can go up to 15 to 30 working days for certain cases. This is excluding any public holidays. Before applying for a visa, applicants must factor that and therefore VFS Global as well may be closed during certain public holidays,” Malhotra said.

VFS Global Visa Application Centres in Wafi Mall, Dubai, and Shining Towers, Abu Dhabi, represent and accept applications for Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Latvia and The Netherlands for the issuance of Schengen visa.

To have a hassle-free trip, here are the top 5 tips to a hassle-free visa:

1. Include all information: When filling in a visa application form, include all the information requested, in the indicated format, as per their travel documentation. Incorrect or missed details will lead to your visa getting issued with incorrect details.

2. Check the list: Have a destination-specific, customised list that is readily available on the VFS Global information pages. Some countries will require specific documents while others may have fewer requirements. It’s better to cover all your bases before application.

3. Bank statement attestation: Select countries require applicants to submit their bank statements, duly attested. It is imperative to submit the attested bank statements to reflect your financial capacity for the travel, as well as your credit hygiene.

4. Don’t cut it too fine: Every country has a different turn-around time for processing a visa application, which in turn varies depending on the peak travel seasons. Don’t leave your visa applications to the last minute. Most countries accept applications up to 90 days prior to travel, and applying for a visa well in advance allows enough time to deal with any unforeseen delays.

5. Sponsor selection: The sponsor details, where required, help officials understand the applicant’s support system in the country of travel, making these details extremely crucial to the visa decision. Ensure all the details are correct and submit relevant sponsorship documents.

Source: Vinay Malhotra, Regional Group COO - Middle East, South Asia and China, VFS Global