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German visa hub unveiled

German visa applications from eastern India will now be handled by the VFS Global.

The German Visa Application Centre at the Joint Application Centre of the VFS on the fifth floor of Rene Towers on Rajdanga Main Road, Kasba, near Ruby hospital, was inaugurated by German consul-general Rainer Schmiedchen on Tuesday.

“The overall aim for joining hands with the VFS was to make the process of getting a visa as easy as possible. We were initially reluctant about the shift because of data protection issues but we think we have finally made the right choice,” said Schmiedchen.

All short-term German visa applications, for business and tourism, will be accepted only at the VFS centre. But for emergency cases, one can go directly to the German consulate in Alipore.

“Long-term visa applications, including student visas, will be accepted only at the consulate,” added Schmiedchen.

The average time for getting a German visa is 36 hours but it could stretch up to 48 hours during peak seasons — such as April and September for tourists.

The eastern India consular region includes Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.

“Around 60 to 80 per cent of the visa applications are business-oriented. In 2011-2012, 200 students had applied for visas from this region,” said a German visa official.

With the involvement of VFS, the German consulate expects an increase in the demand for tourist visas, which is currently around 10,000 a year.

The visa team of the German consulate-general stressed the importance of travel insurance while applying for a visa.

When asked about visa rejections, the consul-general pointed out that the rejection rate was about 0.7 per cent. “If you have proper documents and your information is adequate and correct, there is no reason why your visa application will be rejected,” said Schmiedchen.

Apart from Germany, the Joint Application Centre of the VFS accepts applications for visas for 12 other Schengen countries, including France and Italy.