VFS Global is a outsourcing and technology services company that works with 68 countries to streamline passport, visa and consular services. As the Head for the Americas region, Amit Kumar Sharma outlines the company’s vision and addresses some common questions that members of the Indian diaspora in the United States face today.
Easier processes have been a long-term demand for travel documents. How are you addressing the same?
Amit Kumar Sharma (AKS): VFS Global is bringing more of the visa application process online and to the safety of our customers’ homes. We also offer Visa at Your Doorstep (VAYD) service and have seen a sudden spike in demand for this service. We carry mobile kits to capture the biometrics of individuals in their homes or companies and corporate campuses. In the US, we also facilitate Consular Camps with the support of local federations and associations to make consular services more accessible to the Indian diaspora community.
The consular camps being conducted have been very popular and very useful. What kind of volumes have you seen and expected going forward?
AKS: The Consular Camps in the U.S have been well-received since they began in 2021 in partnership with the Embassy of India in the USA. We held 17-18 consular camps in 2021 and
participated in 26 consular camps in 2022, with several planned for 2023. The community has found them immensely valuable, resulting in the processing of over 3,000 applications in 2022.
Our staff works closely with the Embassy of India and Consulate Generals of India, coordinating with the diaspora federations and associations to hold the camps in convenient locations for the local community, normally on a Saturday. This year, we have already organized 9 consular camps in Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa, New York, and have additional camps planned for the upcoming months. We are flexible and willing to host camps in any region where the Embassy of India/Consulate is available, and we provide appointment slots several weeks in advance to enable customers to plan and gather their documentation effectively.
What are the new services that you have introduced to make the processes faster?
AKS: We have recently introduced a photo solution service to offer a convenient solution for individuals applying for visa, passport and/or consular application. With this service, applicants can have their photographs taken at VFS Global centers or upload their own digital photos online. We have also introduced services such as Digital Document Check for other governments we work with, which enables customers to get their application
documents verified before visiting an application center, thereby making the experience less time-consuming. Our enhancements to the form-filling process will also help you upload and digitally complete the process from home, or take help from our call center.
How can one avoid visa fraud?
AKS: Visa applicants are advised to be cautious of fraudulent entities or impersonators claiming to be associated with VFS Global. Such entities may charge applicants for scheduling appointments or providing other services using VFS Global’s name, even though VFS Global does not charge for scheduling appointments except for legitimate published fees. To stay safe, it is recommended to only use the official VFS Global website or authorized third-party partners to schedule appointments and pay fees. VFS Global also conducts social media campaigns to raise awareness about visa fraud and educate customers on how to identify and report fraudulent activities. It is crucial to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities to VFS Global or the relevant authorities.