This post was originally published on 13 September 2018 and the content may be outdated.
Travelling to Europe may soon get easier for Indian passport holders. As per media reports, the Schengen states which include 26 European countries, are considering to offer priority visas to those holding Indian passport. The decision will surely benefit Indian passport holders.
The Schengen states comprise 26 European countries – Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden, along with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
What is priority visa?
Priority visa is a premium service under which the visa application is processed in a very short time, for an additional fee.
Right now, UK offers ‘super priority’ visas to Indian citizens where the visa process takes one day only. With ‘priority’ category of visas to the UK the visa decision takes less than a week.
The UK started the super priority visa category keeping in mind businessmen who need to travel from India to the country at an extremely short notice.
Currently, a normal visa to the Schengen states takes about 15 to 30 days to be processed. For Indian passport holders who need to travel to the Schengen states on short notice, the revised visa rules will make the process of travelling much easier.
How much would it cost?
The charges for UK ‘super priority’ visa is Rs 90,000 and ‘priority’ visa is Rs 20,000. However, the Schengen priority charges are likely to be much lower than the rates for UK.
Times of India quoted Zubin Karkaria, CEO of VFS Global Group (who handle visas to most countries from India) as saying, “Foreign consulates want to reach out to more and more Indians. They are wooing not just tourists but also other categories. Students from India are a big category, second only to the Chinese for places like UK and Australia.”
He also said that the number of visa applications from India has grown by 10 to 15 per cent but in Tier-II cities, the number has seen a rise by 20 to 30 per cent.
In 2016, VFS Group received 43 lakh applications in India, and the figure jumped to 50 lakh last year.
“The growth is such that in peak (travel) times, we have had to keep our application centres in Delhi and Mumbai open on weekends, 24 hours a day,” Karkaria told the daily.