From 6 weeks to 5 months, the long wait for a visa can disrupt an Indian's foreign travel plans (2023)

Increased demand for international travel has overwhelmed visa processing systems, causing a backlog of applications and longer waits. Delays can also be attributed to recent pandemic-related restrictions and security protocols implemented by several countries.

Maryam Farooqui

April 12, 2023/ 08:46 IST

From 6 weeks to 5 months, the long wait for a visa can disrupt an Indian's foreign travel plans (1)

Travelers in India are facing visa delays, especially for many European markets, hampering their summer travel plans.

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From 6 weeks to 5 months, the long wait for a visa can disrupt an Indian's foreign travel plans (2)


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If you are planning a foreign vacation this summer, be warned: the wait for a visa to travel to the hottest destinations can last from five to six weeks, and in some cases four to five months.

Travel agencies display a long list of pending visa applications submitted by clients who wish to travel abroad during their children's summer school holidays.

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A family from New Delhi planned to visit France in May; they said their travel agent submitted the visa interview forms 10 days ago but they still haven't made an appointment. The agent now suggested that they try their luck with a visit.

Another travel agent said there was no scheduled interview for a travel visa to France.

"For Germany, appointments are available in July, but what if the visa is rejected? Then the traveler will have to wait 3-4 months again. I have about 200-300 files pending for visa appointments," said the agent.

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There are no appointments available

Diplomatic missions from Italy, France and Spain currently have no appointments scheduled, said Daniel D'Souza, president and head of vacation at SOTC Travel.

"The delay is caused by both the VFS and BLS service providers (visa issuing service providers) as well as the embassies," said Sabina Chopra, Director of Corporate Travel Operations at

"Embassies in some countries, such as Switzerland, Denmark and Austria, are still relatively easier to book, but even they can require a reasonable waiting period of 10-15 days," added Chopra.

During the peak holiday season, visa processing may take longer than usual, and this is common in all regions and all embassies, a VFS Global spokesperson said.

"The company follows a standard operating procedure of facilitating visa applications within one working day... these vary from mission to mission," the spokesperson added.

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application crash

The company was overwhelmed with an average of 20,000 orders a day during the peak tourist season last year.

"Given the continued high demand for travel this year, applicants can apply for a visa early to avoid visa processing delays associated with the peak season. Most countries accept visa applications up to 90 days in advance, while Schengen accepts documents up to six months before the date of travel," said a VFS Global spokesperson.

The Schengen zone covers most European countries.

Checking with VFS for tourist visa bookings from their New Delhi to Hungary application center shows no time available. Vacancies are available for Belgium in May.

"In 2022, travel continued, but not all airlines stepped up their operations and visa centers were not well equipped and understaffed," said Sanjay Dang, director of Le Travelworld.

"We had hoped that 2023 would normalize with a shorter visa waiting period, but we are all extremely disappointed," Dang said.

The US is offering visa consultations through January and February 2024, Dang said. It is a big challenge to travel to Italy, France, Germany and the Netherlands. "5-9 weeks is the average waiting period, and sometimes appointments are suddenly announced at odd hours, making scheduling difficult," Dang said.

Read also:Foreign travel frenzy: Delhi visa applications reach 80% of pre-Covid levels in 2022

Stress processing systems

Chopra said he has seen strong demand for outbound travel from India this year. "Compared to the previous year, there was an increase of about 20-25% in confirmed reservations. In addition, we are seeing an increase in the number of inquiries and bookings from April to June compared to the period from January to March,” she said.

Increased demand for international travel has overwhelmed visa processing systems, causing a backlog of applications and longer wait times, Chopra added. Visa delays can also be attributed to recent pandemic-related restrictions and security protocols put in place by several countries.

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Despite the challenge of obtaining a visa, Europe continues to lead the way in demand with a three-fold increase in demand for the upcoming summer holiday season compared to 2022, said Rajeev Kale, President and Country Head, Leisure, MICE, Visa -Thomas Cook (Indija) Limited.

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Even so, the challenge of getting a visa appointment and the extended time it takes to process a visa are significant concerns, he said.

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Exploring other options

Indians are changing their travel plans and trying to go to other destinations with shorter visa waits, said travel agent Sunil Kumar.

"There is a long list of clients waiting for visa appointments - about 30 to 40 travelers. So I tell them to give me 10 days and if after that I don't get a visa appointment for their planned destination, I suggest they change their plans and travel to another country," he said.

Dang said he suggests destinations like the UK, which gives them the ability to visit England, Ireland and Scotland with a visa.

"Turkey could be another option that provides an e-visa if the person has a valid UK visa. We also tell users to plan ahead," he said.

Fast-track visa processing destinations such as the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Malaysia, Oman and Vietnam, which offer visas in 3 to 4 working days, are in high demand during the summer holidays, Kale said.

"Turkey processes visas within 4 to 6 working days; South Africa within 10 days; also New Zealand within 15 to 20 days," he added.

Destinations such as Mauritius, Bali, Maldives, Australia and New Zealand have grown in popularity due to easy visa procedures and direct connectivity, Chopra said.

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"We've seen a 15% to 20% increase in confirmed bookings for overseas travel to those destinations this summer compared to last year," she said.


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