The Swiss Embassy in New Delhi, India has addressed recent misconceptions and clarified its stance on Schengen visa applications for Indian tour groups. Contrary to erroneous reports carried out by several local media outlets, the Embassy stated that it has not suspended Schengen visa appointments for such groups.
It is important to note that earlier this week, several publications reported that Switzerland had ceased accepting Schengen visa applications for Indian tour groups until October due to a backlog of pending applications. These claims were attributed to Tamedia.
However, now the Swiss Embassy has denied these reports and confirmed that visa applications are still being processed.
Emphasis on Swiss-Indian Relations
In an official statement posted by the Swiss Embassy in India reaffirmed the significance of people-to-people contact in Swiss-Indian relationships. The Embassy clarified that it currently handles nearly 800 daily appointments until the end of September 2023, with 22 of these being group appointments.
The Embassy of Switzerland in India has not suspended Schengen visa appointments for Indian tour groups. We have almost 800 daily appointments through the end of September 2023. These include 22 groups. pic.twitter.com/HtGs6OJbYr
— Embassy of Switzerland to India and Bhutan (@SwissEmbassyIND) August 3, 2023
Increased Processing Capacity
The Swiss mission highlighted its commitment to handling visa applications promptly and efficiently. In 2023, the Embassy of Switzerland in India processed more visa applications than in 2019, indicating a 7.8% increase in processing levels.
“We have surpassed our pre-pandemic times processing level. From January until June, we handled 129,446 applications, as against 120,071 during the same period in 2019 – a 7.8% increase,” stated the Embassy.
Measures to Facilitate Visa Application Process
To expedite the visa application process and accommodate the needs of Indian applicants, the Embassy has introduced several measures:
1. Extended Application Window: Applicants are now able to apply for their visa six months before their intended travel date, compared to one month in the past. This change grants individuals greater flexibility and planning time.
2. Expanded Visa Application Centers: The Embassy has increased its overall capacity in India by establishing a new Visa Application Centre (VAC) in Lucknow, bringing the total number of VACs to 13 across the country. This expansion aims to streamline the application submission process.
3. Faster Decision Turnaround: The Embassy has made efforts to expedite the processing time for visa applications. Currently, it takes no more than 13 working days from the appointment by their partner VFS to the Embassy’s decision on the application.
The Significance of the Schengen Area
The Schengen Area, an EU passport-free zone encompassing most European countries, enables short-stay visa holders to travel for up to 90 days for tourism or business across member countries without border controls. This arrangement constitutes the largest free travel area globally.
We apologies for the inaccurate reporting on the suspension of Schengen visa applications for Indian tour groups. We failed to verify the claims before publishing, and we deeply regret any confusion caused. We will implement better fact-checking procedures to uphold journalistic standards.
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