VFS Global, which manages visa applications for more than 50 countries, says it has from January to June 2023 processed well over 30 lakh visa applications in India as opposed to 60 lakh in all of 2019 which had faced none of the challenges currently being seen.
The travel momentum continues even after two major tourism destination — the US and Europe — have longer interview wait time, appointment count capping, etc.
Incidentally, 2019 was a record year for visa lodgments in India which 2023 is now all set to better. The numbers would have been higher had it not been for the processing limitations being faced by the US and Schengen States, say several travel industry veterans.
“We are expecting to surpass pre-pandemic visa applications volumes by this calendar year end. There has been a robust rebound in outbound travel sentiments. Despite initial skepticism, the level of bounce back has resulted in a demand-supply gap,” VFS Global COO (South Asia) Prabuddha Sen told TOI.
US B1 (business) and B2 (visitor) visa applicants are facing a current wait time of 1.5 year long for the interview. According to the leading travel agents, all the Schengen countries — barring Norway and Sweden — have an visa appointment count capping which means only about half of the number of Indians desiring to travel are able to secure an appointment.
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“Portugal, Poland, Italy, France and Germany have this issue. Switzerland and Netherland also to a lesser extent. Basically all Schengen states barring a handful like Norway and Sweden are offering appointments as per the demand for travel,” said multiple travel industry biggies to