NEW DELHI: Over 40 countries have resumed visa application processes at VFS Global centres in India since last June — after an almost complete shutdown during the nationwide Covid lockdown.
Only a few of these 40 countries have started processing applications for all visa categories, like the US, UK, Thailand, Belaurs, Lebanon, Nigeria, South Africa and Turkey.
Most countries are currently processing only certain category visas, like Canada is currently processing only “family, permits and students”, according to data by VFS.
To be sure, while visa processing may have been resumed by 40-odd countries in India, whether one can travel to and from there depends on availability of flights. That, in turn, is based on whether that country has an air bubble with India or not.
India currently has air bubbles with 27 countries like UK, USA, Canada, Russia, Maldives and Seychelles. Other countries like Australia and Thailand do not yet have an air bubble with India.
“Air travel on all routes is subject to government advisories and permissions for air travel may be independent of the visa process,” VFS said as much in its Thursday statement.
“The last quarter has witnessed intermittent activity for the international travel community, with borders opening sporadically in step with vaccination drives in various regions… (As on March 31, 2021) the visa application process (in various categories) for over 40 governments has resumed at select visa application centres across India,” VFS says in its “latest restart updates in visa application operations in India since June, 2020.”
However, as the situation remains dynamic VFS has advised people to “visit the country-specific website on www.vfsglobal.com for the most updated information. Our visa application centres across India remain open as on Wednesday (April 7), though timings and days of working may vary, according to pandemic-related regulations.”
All countries have their own entry rules during the pandemic. India, for instance, is yet to resume tourist visa issuance to foreigners. Similarly, among the few countries currently open for Indian tourists are Maldives, UAE, Russia and Seychelles.
Airlines are seeing Covid passports — where passenger’s test results and vaccination certificates are stored digitally and shared electronically with immigration authorities of destination country — as the key to resuming international air travel. A return to pre-Covid level of international travel seen last in 2019 is expected by 2024-25.
Visa application categories opened for various countries across VFS Global centres in India, as on March 31, 2021.