Eid Al Fitr, summer holidays in UAE: Book Schengen visa appointments in advance, residents told

Entry permit applications for the 27 EU countries can be submitted up to 180 days before the intended travel date

by

Waheed Abbas

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Published: Mon 15 Jan 2024, 12:17 PM

Last updated: Mon 15 Jan 2024, 11:24 PM

Residents of the UAE planning to travel to Schengen countries for the upcoming Eid Al Fitr 2024 and summer holidays are advised to schedule their visa appointments in advance, anticipating a surge in demand.

"As we get close to the holiday season, we expect a surge in demand for travel, so we continue to urge applicants to book their appointments well in advance to avoid any delays," said Monaz Billimoria, regional head for VFS Global, the world's largest visa outsourcing and technology services company for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide.

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VFS Global receives visa applications on behalf of several governments in the UAE and other countries and hands them over to respective missions for visa processing.

The UAE residents will enjoy six-day holidays during the Eid Al Fitr in April 2024. In summer, the schools are closed for a couple of months, allowing residents to spend time with families and friends in cooler climes. Getting a visa appointment to Schengen countries in the past couple of years has been a major challenge for UAE residents and businessmen due to the lack of availability of visa slots amidst strong demand for travel in the post-pandemic period.

The UAE to Europe travel peaks during the summer when many nationals and expatriate residents opt to spend time in Europe. Since UAE nationals enjoy visa-free travel to Schengen countries for short-term stays of up to 90 days, many expatriate residents must apply for visas.

Apply for a visa 6 months before travel

VFS Global's regional head said applications for entry permits for the 27 member countries can be submitted in the UAE up to 180 days before the intended travel date, giving residents enough time to plan their travel.

Monaz Billimoria, regional head for VFS Global
Monaz Billimoria, regional head for VFS Global

“Europe remains a high-demand destination from the UAE, and we urge travellers to book their appointments early to avoid any delays,” Billimoria said.

She urged visa applicants to exercise caution when it comes to third-party entities posing as VFS Global or embassy/consulate staff.

Billimoria clarified that the company does not control appointment availability or visa processing timelines as these are under the control of the respective client governments.

25% increase in Schengen visa

Visa applications from the UAE to the Schengen countries have increased at a double-digit rate in 2023, as well as at the pre-pandemic level, as outbound business and leisure travel continue to grow exponentially.

“The demand for Schengen visas from the UAE has seen a 25 per cent growth in 2023 versus 2022 and an 18 per cent growth over 2019, which reflects the continued high demand for travel to Europe,” said Billimoria.

Billimoria, however, didn’t disclose the names of the countries that are seeing higher demand for visas.

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