As travel picks up after the decline in intensity of Covid, the greatest hurdle to cross is the visa process. Summer travel, especially this year, has become a challenge mainly due to visa traffic. Monaz Billimoria, Deputy Regional Head – UAE, VFS Global shares with TRAVTALK their efforts to make it a better experience.
Visa is the most important and first point of contact for a traveller visiting a destination. How has VFS made this experience an easy one for the travellers?
Customer service is the cornerstone of our operations at VFS Global, and we have made every effort to ensure a smooth and seamless customer journey for our applicants. Appointments are available online and free of cost, ensuring that our applicants do not have to wait long for their turn at the Visa Application Centre (VAC). We have dedicated seating areas both outside and within our premises for applicants who need to wait. Within the centre there are dedicated counters for the countries to apply to, ensuring an efficient application submission process. Additionally, we offer a range of specially designed value-added services for applicants to choose from for further convenience. These include SMS updates for tracking applications, courier return service to have passports securely delivered to the doorstep, or our Platinum or Premium Lounge service for a personalised visa application experience, among others.
Can travel agents make arrangements for visas on behalf of the traveller without their coming into VFS?
For missions that do not require travellers to submit their applications in person, travel agents can submit the documents on their customer’s behalf, with a valid authorisation letter. Applicants who are unable to visit the centre can also opt for the doorstep visa service, if available for the country they are applying to.
What are the new and improved services, especially to beat the demand of the summer traffic?
Applicants are advised to plan their travel and apply well in advance to beat the summer traffic. We work closely with our clients’ governments to manage this demand. VACs are open for longer hours, sometimes even on weekends, to best cater to the demand we see. For group travel, Visa At Your Doorstep continues to be a preferred service.
In most cases securing an appointment is a task and the portal often fails when an individual traveller is applying for visa, how do you plan to further enhance your digital offerings to smoothen the process?
Appointment slots are released as per availability for each day. Due to high demand for visa application appointments during the current peak travel season, there may be times when applicants do not get slots on their preferred date or time and will need to opt for an alternative one. We urge all travellers to plan well in advance and apply for their visas early to avoid any delays before their travels.
How do you work with governments to ease the visa issuance in the GCC?
VFS Global only manages non-judgmental and administrative tasks related to applications for visa, passport and consular services. Processes, decisions and turnaround times on visa applications are the prerogative of the governments.