Tuesday, May 10, 2011

VFS: The most expensive courier service

The first thing you need, if you have to travel abroad, is a visa to the countries you have to visit. And so, begins the hunt for what is the type of visa you need, the checklist of documents, photographs, etc. In India, most of the embassies, those who witness a large amount of visa applications for their countries, have now begun outsourcing part of their work to VFS.The VFS centres of the particular embassy/consulate collects your visa documents and passport, on behalf of the embassy, sorts them in the order required by the embassy and deposits those with them. On the scheduled day, VFS collects those documents and brings it back to its centre for you to collect those.

For all this business, VFS charges every applicant a processing fee, which ranges from Rs. 600 onwards. If the embassies themselves were to do all the administrative jobs that VFS does, they wouldn't be charging us any service fees, as it is included in the visa fees. But we pay these fees to VFS, because it helps us escape those long queues that we might encounter at the embassies/consulates. Also, it helps us realise whether our form is correctly filled and the right set of documents are attached, thus reducing the chances of visa being rejected due to incomplete documents, incomplete forms, etc.

This means, the VFS website listing the document requirements itself should be updated with the latest visa application requirements of the concerned embassy. If not, then there is a chance of a ruined trip to the VFS office. E.g., take the VFS website for the Chinese consulate. To apply for any visa, it does list the requirements. But, after you have gathered everything and gone to the VFS centre, you are told, "Sir, for the business visa, you need to submit your savings bank account statement." You tell them, that isn't mentioned on the website. Then "executive" says, "Sorry sir, the website might not have been updated." So, how am I supposed to know about what documents are required? I cannot have the latest requirements planted into my dreams. Then, she says, "If your airline isn't a Chinese/Hong Kong airline, you need to get your ticket stamped by the airline office." Again, you tell her that this isn't mentioned anywhere on the website.

You start feeling helpless. You have double, triple checked whether all the documents are in order. And you have referred to the website of the organisation authorised by the consulate for the document requirements. And for all this outdated information, VFS charges you Rs. 610 as service fees. Plus, costs you a futile journey to the VFS centre. Makes you wonder, is VFS only a courier service, transporting your documents to and from the embassy for you? Seems to be a pretty expensive service.
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  1. @Kaushik,
    Yes, for attending AdCONIP 2011.

  2. Ah, I paid 1000 bucks to go to UK.

    Quite true.

    Joy always,

  3. Hi,

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