Applying for Europe travel visa? No immediate benefit of new Schengen visa rules likely for Indians; long appointment wait times continue

Applying for a European visa? The travel industry has welcomed the new “favourable” Schengen visa rules for Indians, but industry executives believe that the changes are unlikely to provide any immediate relief for those seeking to travel to Europe who have been frustrated by long appointment wait times for the past three years. However, they expect that the move will encourage more frequent travel to the continent and reduce visa queues in the future.
According to an ET report, the new “cascade” regime announced by the European Union on Monday entails that Indians who have obtained and lawfully used two visas within the previous three years can now be issued long-term, multi-entry Schengen visas valid for two years.
The Schengen visa, which is an entry permit valid for 29 European countries, including France, Germany, Spain, and Italy, must be obtained from the country that serves as the port of entry. According to the new rules, the two-year visa will typically be followed by a five-year visa, provided the passport has sufficient validity. Holders of these visas will enjoy travel rights equivalent to those of visa-free nationals.
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Madhavan Menon, executive chairman of Thomas Cook India Group, believes that the measure will ensure convenience and encourage repeat visits, creating a force-multiplier effect for the travel and tourism ecosystem.
However, Subhash Goyal, chairman of STIC Travel and Air Charters Group, suggests that e-visas may be a more effective solution. He points out that travellers will still have to wait for appointments to apply for the long-term visa, which are currently unavailable for some countries. “There is a waiting time of one or two months for dates and, many times, travellers cancel their programmes,” he said.
In Delhi, travel industry executives have reported a lack of new visa appointment slots for countries like Iceland, Portugal, and Hungary. The situation is similar in Mumbai, where no slots are available for Spain and Hungary. Bengaluru faces a shortage of appointments for Iceland, Italy, and Portugal, while Kolkata has no slots for France, Iceland, Portugal, Hungary, and Norway. The wait times for visa appointments vary, with Italy and Austria taking 35-40 days in Delhi, and Germany requiring about 90 days. In Mumbai, travelers may have to wait over 50 days for a German visa appointment.
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According to Rajiv Mehra, president of Indian Association of Tour Operators, the changes will only provide some relief in the coming year, as the wait for visas persists. Jyoti Mayal, vice chairperson of the Federation of Associations in Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), told the financial daily that Schengen countries have been grappling with the high demand generated by the Indian tourism industry.
“Indian travel agents have reported delays as a major challenge,” she said. “These are due to the backlog of applications and the time it takes for the embassies to process them. The appointment calendars have also been packed to the optimum.”
Despite the challenges, Vijay Kesavan, founder and CEO of StampThePassport, remains optimistic. Having received numerous inquiries about the development on Tuesday, he believes that everyone is eager to take advantage of the changes. “It seems everyone wants to go for it,” he said. “This is a good and sensible move and should benefit the frequent travellers. It’s impractical for embassies to hire extra staff only for the peak summer season demand rush so they are looking to find solutions such as this.”

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