Flying to France after Covid-19 reopening: Obtaining the Visa

The first step to arriving from India into France or the Schengen Zone generally is obtaining a Schengen Visa. I usually have a valid Schengen visa on my passport, but this had expired during the Covid-19 pandemic, and hence there was no straight-up saying yes to the travel to France. Rather I was “subject to” organising a visa. Remember, the trip was pretty last minute.

France opened up visa issuance in India again at the end of July 2021, and I looked for a slot to get my papers over to VFS Global. There were no slots available for over a week out, so I got the first slot in early September 2021.

I figured this would be because of the backlog or the limited services offered at that moment at VFS Global in Delhi. When I arrived to submit my tonnes of paperwork for the visa, I noticed massive queues outside. The VFS Global centres accept visa applications for many geographies and not just one individual geography. I was let in quickly as I was on time, and straight to the counter.

One of the new things now, apart from submitting your itinerary, invitation letters and financial documents, was that VFS asked me about my vaccination certificate. It was not obligatory to submit it, but they said I could submit it if I wanted to. Remember, for now, only those fully-vaccinated with Covishield will be allowed to enter France from India.

Take note that you now need to pay the fee online for your visa submission. This also includes the charges for delivering your passport by courier to you. But there is a new fee now at VFS, an optional service called Courier Assurance. VFS website describes this as,

This is an optional service which is an add-on to return courier. This Service offers applicants an option of an enhanced compensation in case of damage or loss in transit during document transportation. Please see Disclaimer for applicants availing this service.

As you can see, this is all garbage and does not help in any way. I was charged this fee at the Delhi centre without me asking for it. So always make it a point to check your invoice before paying up rather than after, which the Delhi VFS Global Centre asked me to do.

Now, I have to tell you this. There is a mixed bag on the timelines for the visa processing, so you should get yours in the queue as early as possible. In my case, I had applied for it 15 days before travel, and while France decided on visa applications pretty quickly, it took two weeks for my passport to get back in my hand. I really don’t know why the whole thing was stalled, but I have heard this from some other people as well, but most people are still getting the 2-3 day visa decisions.

Bottomline

Visa processing for France is queued up for a long queue right now, so if you are planning to make a trip, you should apply up to three months in advance, which is when they will start accepting your applications. And while you are there, make sure no optional add-ins are added to your check without noticing.

Have you applied for a Schengen Visa from France or any other consulates recently? What has been your experience?


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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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Comments

  1. Are they handing out longer-term visas now, like they said they would generally do for all Schengen countries? That decision was announced before the pandemic, though, so wondering if they have backtracked on that since.

  2. Hi Ajay,

    I just made an appointment for visa application submission at vfs delhi myself. On my appointment receipt it says ‘pay at vac’ under payment status while you just mentioned that the fee has to be paid online. Could you please shed more light on it.

    Thanks.

    • @Anmol, maybe the process changed now? When I applied mid August 2021, I had to pay the fee upfront. Perhaps now it is back to the old one of turning up and paying.

  3. Nice to see SMS Charge & convenience fee is not included by VFS in your receipt, they are most fraudster company I came across.

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