Visa application centre expands UAE operations to meet rising demand
VFS Global's new Abu Dhabi branch is expected to serve 1,500 customers a day and will aid travel arrangements for 28 countries
A global visa application service is expanding its operations in the UAE after launching a new centre in Abu Dhabi to meet a growing demand for international travel.
VFS Global swung open the doors to a new facility at the World Trade Centre Mall on Sunday, which will serve up to 1,500 customers per day.
Residents will be able to apply for visas to travel to 28 countries, including Australia, Canada, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, through the centre.
“We have seen a rise in the number of visa applications received in 2019 as compared to 2018,” said Vinay Malhotra, VFS Global’s regional group chief operating officer for the Middle East, South Asia and China.
“The new VFS Global facility underlines our determination to facilitate outbound travel for residents of Abu Dhabi."
He said the centre aimed to improve convenience in the application process, but would not alter the processing or wait times since that depended on individual governments.
“We recommend to apply as early as possible for a visa,” Mr Malhotra told The National.
“The centre manages the administrative tasks related to visa processing and has no role in the decision-making process behind visas being granted or denied, which remains the sole prerogative of the client governments.”
The centre will accept visa application submission between 9am to 3pm, Sunday to Thursday, and passport collections from 9am to 5pm.
A chauffeur service will be available for platinum lounge customers and customer service representatives will assist with the completion of application forms.
The centre will also provide doorstep delivery of passports, SMS notifications and online tracking to provide the latest updates on the staus of applications.
VFS Global has three centres in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.
The existing Abu Dhabi centre in Shining Tower, which handled between 500 to 800 applications per day, has been shut down to make way for the new centre.
VFS Global processed about half a million applications in the UAE last year, with the Abu Dhabi centre handling more than 80,000 of those.
The company, which has its headquarters in Dubai, operates 3,211 application centres in 147 countries.
VFS Global said it received the most visa applications for planned visits to Saudi Arabia, China, Canada, the United Kingdom and Turkey, with interest in travelling to parts of Eastern Europe also growing.
A report from the World Travel and Tourism Council, issued in 2017, stated that expenditure from outbound travel from the Middle East was expected to reach $165.3 billion (Dh607 billion) by 2025.
Numbers of visitors from the Gulf region to other parts of the world have risen steadily in recent years.
According to the most recent statistics provided by the UAE Government, the number of outbound trips from the country reached 3.5 million in 2015.
Saudi Arabia accounted for close to 4 out of every 10 journeys from the Emirates in that year, with other key markets including the United Kingdom, India, Thailand and Malaysia.
Updated: October 14, 2019 09:18 AM