In order to make the visa process easier for travellers, the Swiss Embassy in India has partnered with VFS Global to open 10 regional visa application centres (VACS) across India. The VACs will be opened in Chandigarh, Kolkata, Jalandhar, Kochi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Puducherry, Ahmedabad, Pune and Hyderabad. Werner E Nievergelt, Consul General of Switzerland said, “There was a significant increase in Indian visitors to Switzerland in 2011 and the market is constantly growing. This partnership with VFS Global will make it easier for applicants to undertake the visa application process.”
The VACs will be completed in three phases. During the first and second phase which will be completed in March 2012, Visa Application Centre branches will be opened in Chandigarh, Kolkata, Jalandhar, Kochi, Chennai, Pondicherry and Bengaluru while the application centres in Pune and Ahmedabad will be completed in the third phase by mid-2012.
Murali Raghavan, COO – South Asia and CIS, VFS Global revealed that the VACs were a pilot project limited to two years. He added that all 130 VFS Global Centres across South Asia were certified with ISO 9000 AND ISO 27,000 and that the company was seeking the same status for its centres worldwide, which could be certified by mid-April 2012. In 2011, Switzerland issued 76,700 visas to Indians travelling to Switzerland, compared to 61,686 issued in 2010. Additionally, 460,440 bed nights by Indian visitors were recorded in Switzerland in 2011, an increase of 17.2 per cent compared to 392,852 in 2010.