UAE Clarifies Schengen Visa Appointment Availability Amid Peak Summer Travel

asmaa - | Arab News

Travel agents report that appointment slots for Schengen visas are booked up until the end of August, as Europe remains a popular destination for UAE travelers.

High Demand for Europe Travel and Schengen Visas Among UAE Residents

Those planning to travel to Europe for Eid Al Adha or the summer vacation may face difficulties in securing visa appointments, according to industry experts. However, some slots may become available due to various factors.

UAE residents are expected to have up to five days off in mid-June for Eid Al Adha, with schools closing for summer vacation in July and August. This period is the most popular time for residents to travel. Monaz Billimoria, Regional Head for UAE at VFS Global, which manages visa applications for several European countries, emphasized the need to plan and book well in advance.

Slots for summer travel to Schengen nations were selling out swiftly, as Billimoria had previously reported in March. He went on, emphasizing the value of early application, saying that travelers could apply for a Schengen visa up to six months before their planned departure date.

Online travel agency Musafir reported a 40 percent increase in travel demand to Europe for the summer vacation season compared to 2023. Schengen countries, in particular, are experiencing a surge in demand, with many travelers excited about exploring new destinations. However, residents who have only recently started planning their summer trips to Europe may struggle to secure visa appointments.

According to Dopamine Travels' Sales Head, Ramy Badr, the majority of embassies will begin scheduling appointments in September 2024. He did, however, caution that finding earlier timeslots is not impossible because a number of embassies issue a limited number of appointments on a regular basis. The Czech Republic embassy, for instance, has scheduled appointments for the end of June and July. Badr advised locals to make a habit of checking the VFS website for newly available slots on a regular basis and to think about getting help from travel agents to make and keep appointments.

Anir Chatterji, Europe, Middle East, and Africa Immigration Partner at Vialto Partners, described securing an appointment before the summer break as "very challenging." Consistent monitoring of appointment availability, especially during early or late hours, is crucial for those hoping to travel during this peak season.

Warning Against Fraud

VFS Global has warned residents against fraudulent entities that charge fees for scheduling visa appointments. The company clarified that it does not charge any fee for booking appointments on its official website. Some governments may require pre-payment of the service fee at the time of booking the appointment to ensure genuine travelers use the system, and this payment will be reimbursed or deducted during the application process. This measure is intended to prevent misuse by fraudulent entities.

As Europe continues to be a high-demand destination for UAE travelers, particularly during Eid Al-Adha and the summer vacation, early planning and booking are essential. Despite the challenges of securing visa appointments, staying vigilant and using official channels can help residents successfully plan their travels. With increased demand and limited appointment availability, travelers must act swiftly and utilize resources like VFS Global's real-time updates and assistance from travel agencies to navigate the busy travel season.

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