The German embassy is opening a call centre in New Delhi to be operated by VFS India, a private service provider and division of Kuoni India.
The centre, which is starting operations from July 4, is being set up to improve services for people in northern India who apply for short-term (less than 90-day) Schengen visas in the categories of tourist, transit and business. Applicants will now be required to take a prior appointment on the telephone or online in order to submit their applications.
"While the embassy is solely responsible for assessing the individual applications and granting visas, passports will have to be collected back from the VFS call centre. Trained staff at the centre will schedule appointments and guide applicants on rules and requirements," said Kurt Zenker, head of consular and legal section at the German embassy.
There has been a 15% rise in applications for short-term visas to Germany from India in the past year and the embassy predicts a 10-15% growth annually for the next few years. Outsourcing of some of the processes is likely to cut down the minimum processing time to three days, even in the heavy tourist season.
"Residents of the northern states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, as well as Union Territories of Chandigarh, Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshwadeep, Minicoy and Amini will be benefited by the call centre and can fix their visa appointments before they arrive in Delhi," Mr Zenker said.