UAE cautions travelers against scammers offering "faster Schengen visas"

Passport and visa outsource company VFS Global warns travelers about fraudulent agents exploiting them for money, particularly in securing Schengen visa appointment slots.

R.S., an entertainment professional, nearly became a victim of such a scam while arranging a Schengen visa for a performance opportunity in Portugal. He considered paying an agent Dh500 for assistance but was dissuaded by friends who cautioned against the risk and excessive cost.

VFS Global emphasizes the prevalence of these scams and advises travelers against paying for appointment slots, stressing that such charges are illegitimate. The company clarifies that it does not charge for appointment bookings on its official website. However, some governments may require pre-payment of service fees during booking, which are later reimbursed or deducted during the application process.

During an annual agenda meeting discussing visa trends, Monaz Billimoria of VFS Global notes the increasing demand for Schengen and UK visa appointments as UAE residents plan their summer vacations. To address the surge in demand for UK visas, VFS Global has established premium centers across the UAE. Billimoria urges travelers to plan their trips well in advance to secure timely appointments and avoid potential delays.

Last year, travelers experienced lengthy wait times of up to three months for Schengen visa appointments, prompting some to resort to fraudulent agents promising expedited processing for a fee. Many UAE residents have fallen victim to such scams, resulting in financial losses. VFS Global's warning comes as a timely reminder for travelers to exercise caution and only rely on legitimate channels for visa application processes.

The company's stance against fraudulent practices aims to protect travelers from exploitation and financial harm. By raising awareness about the risks associated with unauthorized agents, VFS Global seeks to safeguard the interests of travelers and uphold the integrity of the visa application process. Travelers are encouraged to stay informed, verify information from official sources, and report any suspicious activities to relevant authorities to prevent further scams and protect fellow travelers from similar predicaments.

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