POLITICS

Swiss Embassy Suspends Schengen Visa Applications for Indian Tour Groups: Here’s Why

Last Updated: August 03, 2023, 08:11 IST

All foreigners applying for a Switzerland Schengen visa must submit several documents. (Representative image: Reuters)

All foreigners applying for a Switzerland Schengen visa must submit several documents. (Representative image: Reuters)

Swiss embassy in New Delhi suspends Schengen visa applications for Indian tour groups till October due to high volume and staff shortages

The Swiss Embassy in New Delhi has stopped accepting Schengen visa applications for Indian tour groups until October due to a high volume of pending applications, according to SchengenVisaInfo.com. Tour operators were requested to reschedule group trips to ensure timely visa processing before the travel date.

The Schengen Area is an EU passport-free zone covering most European countries, allowing short-stay visa holders to travel for up to 90 days for tourism or business across member countries without border controls. It’s the largest free travel area globally.

Notably, the embassy acknowledged its inability to process the high number of applications, causing dissatisfaction among tour operators. As per SchengenVisaInfo.com, the group tours outside India are highly profitable for operators, and they are striving to facilitate smooth travel to the bloc without delays.

The Swiss embassy cited a lack of staff as a challenge in processing applications. Simon Bosshart, Head of Markets East at Switzerland Tourism, acknowledged the issue and stressed that Swiss embassies are currently facing staff shortages. He said that the shortage is affecting not only Indian travelers but also Chinese travelers who wish to visit Switzerland in groups.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on visa processing centers in China has also contributed to the challenges faced by the embassies in handling the high number of applications.

Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs mentioned processing 94 percent of 2019 visa applications, but delays were attributed to “visa shopping” where applicants apply to multiple countries for faster processing.

“While Switzerland is already processing 94 per cent of the visa applications made available in 2019, many other Schengen countries at various locations have not yet been able to restore their visa capacities from 2019,” the statement of the Department reads.

As per the report, foreigners applying for a Switzerland Schengen visa must provide various documents, including the completed application form, passport, photos, previous visas, flight itinerary, accommodation proof, financial means, and travel insurance.

Rohit

Rohit is a News18.com journalist with a passion for world affairs and a love for football. Follow him on Twitter at @heis_rohit

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