Information for Visa Applications from South Africa
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Visa backlog nightmare!

Visa backlog nightmare!

The UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) authority is notifying agents that due to the ongoing global impact of Covid-19, they are experiencing extremely high demand and that standard UK visitor visas are taking significantly longer than usual to be processed.

Lisa Felix, owner of The Visa Expert gave Travel News some perspective on some of the problems being experienced with visa applications for South African passport holders wanting to travel after being ‘red listed’ by so many countries for a long, long time. 

Felix explained that of the embassies issuing tourist visas, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria are experiencing particularly high demand and appointments are being pushed further out every day. Currently, French and Schengen appointments are only available from the end of November and the Netherlands has no appointments available at all.


But it is some of South Africa’s most popular destinations where there are huge visas logjams. “The UK has the biggest backlog and appointments are really becoming a problem. We are also struggling to get appointments for the US and we’ve had a huge influx of applications before Christmas. People want to visit their families and are getting very frustrated.”

Said Felix: ”Since the UK has opened up I’ve only had one visa come out which took 16 working days. All my other applications are still currently under processing and it has been much longer than the standard 15 working days. My clients are getting anxious as the holidays draw nearer and flights are filling up.” Felix said that although most visa application requirements post-Covid have remained the same, many embassies have started asking for vaccination certificates and that some embassies that are issuing business visas require special permission to apply for a visa if the client is not vaccinated.

Significantly longer wait

Travel News asked Lucy Saint-Antonin, Head of Communications and Marketing at TLScontact (which is the agency for processing UK visas) what the situation is with UK visa applications, and more particularly, the backlog of applications that were accepted long before the visa section of the Embassy opened.  Are they processing the previously lodged applications before new applications?

Said Saint-Antonin: “Unfortunately, due to extremely high demand, standard UK visitor visas are currently taking significantly longer to be processed by UK Visas & Immigration than the published service standard of up to 15 working days. We ask our customers to bear this in mind when making any travel bookings.  UK Visas & Immigration will assess new cases as quickly as possible. At TLScontact, our teams are working hard to process all submitted applications as quickly as possible.”

Elzaan de Wit, an ITC trading as Traveltique has managed to get tourist visas for Germany and France for some of her clients but has had huge problems with getting visa appointments for the Netherlands. “My clients tried for more than a month to get an appointment through VFS and eventually I had to change their travel plans and the entire itinerary so they could apply at the French embassy. It was an absolute nightmare,” said de Wit.

Travel News attempted to make an appointment for the Netherlands via VFS, but none of their application centres have appointments available. The website states: “No appointment slots are currently available.”