As the hot season is fast approaching, many people in Dubai and the UAE plan to travel for summer holidays. But vacation trips can easily turn into disasters if people decide to apply for a visa in the last minute. Security requirements and countries’ rules have been constantly renewed which often leads to unpleasant surprises and long lines in front of VFS in Dubai.
Quick visa approvals barely happen, because most countries are tightening the entry procedures and require more and more papers from summer holiday goers. In addition, security and customs authorities are improving the regulations, which further slow the processing of applications and increase the cost. This creates longer wait times for both Emirati nationals and expats, even for the simpler temporary visas of 90 days. Huge amounts of paperwork should be prepared and those who haven’t done their documentation properly often find themselves making endless trips to embassies and consular offices, VFS offices. It’s even worse if travelers have booked ahead their tour packages and flights – they can easily lose a lot of money due to the visa delay. Requirements for UAE nationals are not so stringent in some cases. They don’t need a visa to travel to some countries such as Georgia, for example, where you receive a visa on arrival with relieved requirements. Emiratis do not need to obtain visa prior traveling to Thailand, Sri Lanka and Turkey – all very popular summer holiday destinations. On the other hand, Russian expatriates, for instance may need to pay significant fees and different charges for a visa required to travel from Dubai to Toronto. It is also quite time-consuming since you will have to go to the Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
A trip to Toronto will also require a letter from the employer, flight itinerary, two passport photographs, and a stamped and dated copy for your account activity by the bank. This detailed and verified information is needed so that customs officials are confident that you have enough money to visit Canada. Authorities estimate the amount of finances depending on where the visitor stays and the duration of the visit. A lot of countries have such requirements, because they simply need to be sure visitors will be able to return to their country successfully.
Most countries also need to know why you are visit them – to work, to see family and relatives, or just to spend some leisure time as a tourist. In any case, certain documentation will be required – letters of invitation, tour route, or a proof of employment, a contract or some agreement. In order to be relevant, all documents have to be signed, stamped, and so on.
Booking in Advance
Usually people start planning their vacations by choosing a discounted package and booking in advance hotel stays and flights. You are not the smartest who does this! While this may be good for the budget, it also may be a very bad idea if your visa is delayed for some reason. The processing of the visa application usually takes longer than people think. The average time for a visit visa for UK is about two weeks and for the United States can be as much as several months. That’s why the US Consulate advises people to apply for a visa before deciding the date of departure.
Travelers to Europe need to secure a Schengen visa to be able to travel, but the main problem is that different countries, and their respective embassies in the Emirates, have different regulations. There are different rules for the different visas; there are various requirements, while at the same time people don’t have access to simple information services. Besides, applicants usually have to wait for hours to ask a question or get a signature.
VFS Global in the UAE
In Dubai, at Wafi shopping mall, London-based VFS Global manages visa application centre and provides administrative support to consular sections in the diplomatic missions. The company works with the UK Border Agency and it also operates Joint Visa Application Centres for Schengen countries in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Asia. That’s why, it is very convenient to submit all visa-related documents at their office in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. VFS performs only tasks related to the application process, while the assessment depends solely on the embassy staff.
The visa application process at VFS is very well organized in quite pleasant surroundings. However, it comes with a price tag and in many cases the service cost more than if you do it yourself through an embassy or consulate in UAE.