With surge in outbound travel from Kenya, VFS Global offers tips for smooth visa application experience

Based on the data available mid-year, there is convincing evidence that reveals global travel is on the rise in 2023, including in countries like Kenya. The surge in travel activity in 2022 took the industry by surprise, exceeding the conservative recovery projections, and is continuing into 2023 with visa application volumes at VFS Global in Kenya more than doubling versus 2021 already.

Explaining why the demand for visas has increased and what applicants need to keep in mind, Hariprasad Viswanathan (pictured), Head of sub Saharan Africa, VFS Global, said during a media outreach session in Nairobi “Due to the high pent-up travel demand, we expect the increase in international travel from last year to continue this year as well. With the opening of international borders and easing travel restrictions, the industry is witnessing peak ‘revenge’ travel with tourism, family visits, and educational as well as business trips being the common reasons for outbound travel from Kenya. Seeing the surge in demand for outbound travel in the initial part of this year and with limited appointment slots available, we encourage our applicants to apply for their visas as early as possible like their flight and hotel bookings.” 

VFS Global affirmed its commitment to continuously engage in developing innovative solutions to enhance the overall visa application experience. Applicants are regularly provided information about visa processing timelines, data protection and privacy assurance, how to detect fraud and the organisation’s value-added services are regularly communicated via key touchpoints.

Hariprasad Viswanathan advised applicants to be sure to carry all the requisite documentation, including a printout of the checklist, to submit along with the duly filled application form. Just like applying for a visa in advance, it is recommended that applicants must check their passport’s validity before planning an international trip. Many countries require a valid passport six months beyond your return date. Keeping such requirements in mind, VFS Global has addressed a series of common queries applicants in Kenya have raised:

  • What are the typical turnaround timelines for visas?

Please be advised that the visa processing timelines vary country-wise, and details are available on our website. We would like to caution applicants that during the period of increased outbound travel demand, visa processing could take longer than anticipated.

  • What is the appointment allotment process at VFS Global?

Appointment slots are offered online based on the volume of demand or forecast and in conjunction with the Embassy’s internal capacity planning. Once scheduled, we highly recommend applicants be at the Centre 15 minutes before the appointed time to avoid missing your slot.

(We strongly advise all applicants to be careful of agents and fraudulent parties who falsely promise early appointment bookings in exchange for payment).

  • Can I expedite the process? Does availing of any of the value-added services guarantee a faster visa outcome?

The time taken for visa processing differs with each mission. We recommend you check the turnaround timelines before applying. Opting for any optional, value-added services (such as Prime Time Services or Form-filling, or any other service) does not guarantee a quicker or more positive decision by the concerned Embassy/Consulate.

On the other hand, these premium services like Visa at your doorstep have seen a significant increase last year as more and more applicants seek the ease and convenience these services offer in their travel planning, at an additional cost.

  • What are some of the reasons why applications get rejected? Does VFS Global decide on my visa application?

The most common reason visa applications get rejected is due to incorrect or insufficient information submitted while applying for a visa. We advise our applicants to check their respective country websites by visiting our website www.vfsglobal.com under the document checklist section. We also offer an optional form-filling service at an additional cost for certain locations, which applicants can avail of to ensure the correct information is updated.

Please be advised that VFS Global manages only the administrative and non-judgmental tasks related to visa, passport and consular services for its governments. We do not play any role in the decision-making process of visas. This is the sole prerogative of the respective governments.

  • How do I know I am eligible for any fee refunds? What are the steps to follow?

Our Refund Policy applies to any services fees and optional value-added services charges collected by us from applicants as part of the visa process. It does not apply to visa and legalisation fees paid for the visa as it’s at the discretion of the respective visa-issuing government.

Applicants are eligible for a refund if they have been charged more than once for the same service or if they have paid an excess sum if proof is provided. To apply for a refund, they must complete the Refund Request Form with the supporting documents online, within 30 days from the date of appointment cancellation. Refunds will be processed using the same mode of payment. More details are available on www.vfsglobal.com and applicants can write to [email protected] if not resolved in 15 days.

VFS Global is the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions. VFS Global is the trusted partner of 69 client governments, operating a global network with more than 3,300 Application Centres in 144 countries. The company has processed over 266 million applications since its inception in 2001. The company manages non-judgmental and administrative tasks related to applications for visa, passport, and consular services for its client governments, enabling them to focus entirely on the critical assessment task. VFS Global has its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

VFS Global is majority-owned by funds managed by Blackstone, the world’s largest alternative asset manager. The Swiss-based Kuoni and Hugentobler Foundation and EQT, a global investment organisation, headquartered in Stockholm/Sweden, hold minority stakes in VFS Global.


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