VFS Global: Insights into Rising Visa Demand and Travel Trends

Hariprasad Viswanathan, Head – Sub Saharan Africa, VFS Global

• The number of visa applications processed until July 2023 from Kenya is more than double the 2021 volumes, and at nearly 80% of 2022 volumes
• Canada, Australia & China have emerged as the top locations for outbound travel in terms of visa application volumes along with Schengen locations like Italy and The Netherlands
• VFS Global services 16 governments in Kenya through an extensive network of 18 Application Centres across 2 cities

Based on the data available mid-year, there is compelling evidence that indicates a notable increase in global travel in 2023, including within countries like Kenya.

The unexpected surge in travel activity during 2022 caught the industry off guard, surpassing conservative recovery projections. This trend is persisting into 2023, with visa application volumes at VFS Global in Kenya already more than doubling compared to 2021.

During a media outreach session in Nairobi, Hariprasad Viswanathan, Head – Sub Saharan Africa at VFS Global, shed light on the reasons behind the heightened demand for visas and shared insights for prospective applicants

“Owing to the pent-up demand for travel, we anticipate that the upward trajectory in international travel from the previous year will continue throughout this year. As international borders open up and travel restrictions ease, the industry is witnessing a peak in ‘revenge’ travel, encompassing tourism, family visits, education, and business trips as the primary motives for outbound travel from Kenya. Given the surge in demand for outbound travel early this year, and considering the limited appointment slots available, we strongly encourage applicants to initiate their visa applications as promptly as they would their flight and hotel bookings,” he affirmed.

VFS Global reiterates its dedication to consistently devising innovative solutions that enhance the overall visa application process. Regular communication with applicants includes information on visa processing timelines, data security and privacy assurances, guidance on fraud detection, and updates about value-added services, all communicated through key interaction points.

Hariprasad Viswanathan advises applicants to ensure they have all the necessary documentation, including a printed copy of the checklist, to submit alongside their completed application form. Just as it is prudent to apply for a visa well in advance, it is similarly advisable for applicants to verify the validity of their passports prior to planning international travel. Numerous countries stipulate a valid passport extending six months beyond the return date, a requirement that should be kept in mind.

VFS Global also addresses various common inquiries raised by Kenyan applicants, such as the typical turnaround time for visa processing and the appointment allocation process. Visa processing times can vary based on the country, and especially during periods of elevated outbound travel demand, processing times may exceed expectations. Appointment slots are allocated in accordance with demand and forecasts, in coordination with the Embassy’s internal capacity planning. Once an appointment is scheduled, it is recommended that applicants arrive at the center 15 minutes before their allotted time to prevent any scheduling conflicts.

The primary reason for visa application rejections commonly stems from inaccuracies or incomplete information provided during the application process. Applicants are strongly advised to consult their respective country websites through the www.vfsglobal.com portal under the document checklist section. An optional form-filling service is available at an additional cost for specific locations, offering applicants a way to ensure that accurate information is provided.