Yummi Talwar, Chief Operating Officer Of VFS Global

Demand high, visa application must be planned early: Yummi Talwar COO South Asia VFS Global

“The first and most crucial step in foreign travel is early planning for visas,” says Yummi Talwar, Chief Operating Officer – South Asia, VFS Global in an exclusive interview with Namrata Kohli

Namrata Kohli | New Delhi

The recently appointed COO Yummi Talwar of VFS Global- the world’s leading visa and consular services outsourcing technology company, has been the company’s regional head for the visa business for Europe. VFS Global serves as a trusted partner to 67 governments. Headquartered in Zurich and Dubai and backed by majority shareholder Blackstone, along with the Swiss-based Kuoni and Hugentobler Foundation and EQT, VFS Global has efficiently processed more than 287 million applications since 2001 and over 135.43 million biometric enrolments since 2007 and are operating 3415 Application Centres in 151 countries focuses on administrative tasks related to visa, passport, and consular services.

Namrata Kohli speaks to Yummi Talwar on how to have a smoother visa application process

What advice can you offer travelers regarding applying for visas?

Planning early for the visa process is vital. The pandemic has changed international travel trends significantly, making early planning essential for a smooth experience. Travellers should apply for visas as soon as possible, as the high demand for travel affects the availability of visa appointments and the speed of visa decisions. Applying early also increases the chances of getting a timely decision. This is very important during the peak travel seasons, when embassies and consulates receive many applications. The VFS Global website www.vfsglobal .com has all the information that applicants need to plan early and make informed decisions.

Please explain the specific administrative tasks that VFS Global handles in the visa application process?

In a nutshell, we handle almost the entire non-judgmental and administrative part of the process – starting from accepting the visa application to returning the passport to the visa applicant post the decision-making process by Embassies or Consulates. In between, we add a vast array of services to enhance the overall experience for the visa applicant and make the process efficient and secure for the governments. Our core functionality includes appointment booking, form checking, data entry, fee collection, biometric enrolment, forwarding documents to the concerned Embassy/Consulate, and courier passback of documents to the visa applicants. We do not play any role in the decision-making part of the process.

Which are the value-added services VFS Global offers to expedite the visa application process?

VFS Global provides many extra services such as scanning, copying, locker, courier, form-filling, SMS, Premium Lounge, Visa at Your Doorstep, etc. that applicants can choose based on their needs and preferences. We inform all customers that they only need to pay the visa fees (to respective governments) and a service fee approved by the government to VFS Global. Visa at Your Doorstep (VAYD) is a popular option after the pandemic as more applicants want to travel safely. This premium service lets applicants complete the visa application process including biometric enrollment from a place of their choice – home or office. According to our latest Integrated Sustainability Report 2023, VFS Global keeps a high customer satisfaction score of 95% that shows our commitment to customer-centricity.

How can applicants track the status of their visa applications through VFS Global, and what limitations exist in this tracking process?

After submitting your application, you can receive information on its status through SMS or VFS Global’s online tracking tool. The status will be updated once your passport is available for collection/delivery. Please keep in mind that VFS Global is not involved in the decision making of any application and hence cannot track an application while it is being reviewed at an embassy or consulate.

What are some common mistakes applicants should avoid to ensure a smoother application process?

Common mistakes made by applicants often delays the visa experience making it stressful and complicated. Frequent errors include incomplete or incorrect form completion, missing or insufficient supporting documents, and failure to check passport validity. These issues can affect the decision-making timeline, ultimately disrupting applicants’ travel plans. Therefore, the first and most crucial step is early planning for visas. Early planning gives you adequate time to acquire relevant information regarding visa categories, documents required and the opportunity to book visa appointments well before the travel date to avoid last minute surprises. All the relevant information is available on www.vfsglobal,com

How is VFS Global’s educating travelers regarding appointment frauds?

VFS Global has strategically implemented various measures across all our applicant touchpoints alerting them to be wary of fraudulent entities. Anti-fraud advisory messages are consistently reiterated through emails, social media platforms, SMS, call-center voice messages, advertisements and posters in our application centers among others. By disseminating these warnings across multiple channels, VFS Global aims to educate applicants about the risks associated with fraudulent entities asking money in exchange for visa appointments. Visa appointments are free and only available www.vfsglobal.com.

Source: Business Standard https://mybs.in/2dWf6hM

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