Have you ever come across anyone who seems like they made it their life’s mission to make your’s a living hell. Why do some people have to be so difficult?
If anyone who lives in Dubai has ever tried to get a visa to Europe, they’d be familiar with the place I’m talking about. Who or What is it? VFS Global.
I’m not sure what kind of company it is and where it was started, but it appears that they are like HIV / AIDS going on claiming more and more Embassies and countries under its list of victims. Their job is very simple. They act like a middle man, collecting the required documents for a visa, sending it to the consulate and informing the customer when he/she can collect the passport. Its simple and direct. I understand that they have offices in other countries too.
My problem is with the office here. Every time I deal with them, my patience always runs thin. I’ve never lost my cool yet, but they sure push for it. Its mostly the weird requirements that don’t make any sense; sometimes they ask for a document that you know the Consulate did not ask for and isn’t even related to the task they have been given. I know this because I did speak with a couple of consulates about it. There was one time that they asked for the bank statements of the company and the company’s complete financials. The consulate didn’t request this. Why do they need to have it then?
I was once in a queue to enter the center and could overhear a serious conversation in between one of the supervisors of the center and a couple; who looked pretty upset. As the guy was explaining their situation, from what I could gather, they applied for a visa to Italy and they did it well over a month in advance to the trip. The guy already had received his visa and were only waiting for the lady’s passport to come back. From what they were told, it would take two weeks due to the huge amount of applications. Seeing that they applied well in advance, they weren’t too worried about it.
They were also told that they could track the status of the application over the internet, they did so for two weeks and soon realized that from the VFS site /system, the passport was still with the consulate and no further updates were showing. They went to the VFS center to check with them and were told to go to the consulate directly to see what the issue was. They went to the consulate and the consulate claimed that they cannot locate the application anywhere. From there on, they go back and forth in between the center and the consulate for almost a week. The consulate denies ever receiving the application and VFS stands by what their system says.
Finally after being turned away from the consulate with just 3 days to go for their trip, they go back to the VFS center and demand that the place be turned over to find that passport. They found it; the whole application as is; fallen behind a cabinet. It never went to the consulate even though the VFS tracking system said it did. Now with just 3 days before their trip, they try to get the visa sorted, the consulate says, Sorry, cannot be done. They need the two week processing time.
Of course the couple are now really upset, and as you can imagine also want their money back. But the VFS center denies any wrong doing on their part. On hearing this, I was horrified. How could it not be their fault?
The thing is that this was all covered up as an isolated incident and they claim that the one responsible was dealt with. Who knows if this is really true. There simply is no guarantee that this won’t happen again. If the center has the nerve to deny any wrong doing on this matter, who knows what they will say if the passport is completely lost all together.
VFS is by far not the only contender in this mayhem of middle-man consulate services. The Indian consulate have handed over their service to a company called BLS. The funny thing is that the online application form is globally the same. And you have to give details about your birth, parents full name, place of birth & nationality, even if they are not even travelling with you. It appears that you’re filling something for migration or citizenship rather than a simple visa. If anyone wants any details on anybody in the world, don’t go to the CIA or Big Brother, just call the Indian government. If that person ever set foot in India, you can be sure they have his entire history, right down to the 3 previous generations before him.
BLS makes this even harder. Every time you go there, it always the appears that the rules have changed. Not something that pleases me at all.
My job requires me to deal with these people all the time and it frustrates me to know that things are not getting easier for me to do my job, only harder; ‘cuz now I have to keep updating myself with not just the required documentation for each consulate, but what these services require as well. I get it that in this world of Terrorism and stuff, we need to be more careful and as a result travelling has been made a tiny bit more of a hassle; but along with the security, you need not a relaxation of the rules, but rules and questions that make sense.