Visa delay affects international travel, passengers fear financial loss

Embassies are under pressure from a large backlog of applications.

New Delhi:

Prayash Giria, 33, had been looking forward to his trip to Greece with his three cousins, but with only two weeks until his flight, the visa is no longer in sight.

Mr. Giria says he submitted his documents more than a month ago. On the WhatsApp group that Greek visa applicants formed after ending up on social media, more than 160 members have similar complaints.

With travel resuming strongly after two years of the pandemic, many who have planned international vacations this summer are facing the nightmare of not getting their visas on time.

Mr. Giria told NDTV: “I have never faced such a visa experience before. I have traveled abroad for 12 years during which I have visited more than 20 countries. ‘d get my visa in 4-5 days but this time it’s been over a month since I applied I’m scared because I hear of people not getting the visa in time. Others managed to get their visa at the last moment I have already spent almost Rs 1.5 lakh on tickets, hotel, insurance etc. and if the visa does not arrive on time, I will lose a lot of money. silver.”

Embassies are under pressure from a large backlog of applications. The Greek Embassy recently announced that it was adding staff to deal with the influx. While the British High Commission’s website says visitor visa applications can take six weeks to process, it’s 129 days or more than four months for Canada. The Danish embassy has temporarily suspended all visa applications due to “lack of staff and an unexpected increase in the number of applications”.

The US Embassy recently announced the resumption of in-person visa appointments from September and slots are fully booked until April 2023 in cities like Delhi and Mumbai.

Travel agencies say they deal with a large number of harassed customers. The Association of Travel Agents of India has now written a letter to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, seeking his intervention and government-to-government dialogue on the Schengen and US visa delay.

Jyoti Mayal, President of the Association of Travel Agents of India (TAAI), said: “It’s a lot of pent-up demand. This is the first summer vacation after Covid. People have already traveled to the neighboring countries like Dubai and the Maldives. So now the Schengen countries are facing the weight of all the people moving to that side. Many people are traveling with their friends or cousins ​​after a long time.”

“Embassies are unable to keep up with the demand. During Covid a lot of their staff had returned to their countries and that is why there is a shortage of staff now. We have not only written to the Minister of External Affairs of India, we are also requesting time from embassies of various countries so that our delegation can meet with them and urge them to address these issues,” Ms. Mayal said.

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