Technical snag hits Schengen joint visa application centre

DUBAI — The newly opened Schengen joint visa application centre in the emirate yesterday saw angry and frustrated applicants waiting to complete the visa application procedure for several hours following a technical problem at the centre.

By Preeti Kannan (Our staff reporter)

Published: Tue 10 Jun 2008, 1:25 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 6:25 PM

Many claimed they were unable to even submit applications despite waiting at the centre from morning.

The centre, in fact, has witnessed an "unusual upsurge" of over 20 per cent in the number of applications received daily. In fact, it has been receiving nearly 800 applications everyday since the beginning of June.

The centre, which opened exactly a month ago in the emirate, collects applications of people wanting to go to Schengen countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Malta and Slovenia.

Guram R., who is planning a business visit to Italy, told Khaleej Times, "I had been at the centre from 11am to 4pm yesterday to submit my visa application. However, the systems were down and there was no response from officials as to when things would be alright. There were so many women and children also waiting endlessly and it was a big mess. I had to leave without submitting the application and now I have to make another trip to the centre if I need a visa."

According to him, more than 100 people were waiting at the centre yesterday, hoping to get their application procedure completed.

Another applicant, Dr Bassel Dwigari, said, "I lost one day waiting to get an appointment so that I can travel to France. Now I cannot travel because even if I come back to the centre, I will get an appointment only for the end of the month and the visa will take at least 10 to 15 days to be processed once I scan my fingerprints."

He added that the efficiency has to be improved so that customers can procure visas quickly.

Martin Tscherner, Vice-Consul at the German Consulate in Dubai, confirmed that there had indeed been a server problem for a couple of hours.

"We have been receiving nearly 500 applications from people wanting to go to Germany alone. During summer, the numbers usually triple. This is only a teething problem and things will be in place soon," he said.

In a written statement to Khaleej Times, Nada Yafi, Consul-General at the French Consulate in Dubai, said, "The visa application centre is a new system aiming at facilitating submission of applications as it avoids weeks of waiting for an appointment (like the previous online system)."

The centre has been set up jointly by the French, German and Italian consulates in Dubai primarily to ease the woes of applicants. It accepts applications from 9am to 5pm. The services have been outsourced to VFS LLC, which collects and checks applications for completeness and forwards them to the respective consulates.

"The VFS application system being new requires a trial period for a better coordination between VFS and the consulates as well as a transition from the old to the new system," said Nada Yafi.

An official from VFS Global, who did not want to be named, said, "There has been an unusual upsurge in the number of applications. There was a server problem for a couple of hours. We are trying to deal with the influx."

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