UK (Parliament Politic Magazine) – According to a recent report from Bleeping Computer, individuals who were planning to apply for Swiss Schengen tourist and transit visas in the United Kingdom have encountered an unexpected obstacle. All appointments for these particular visas have been abruptly canceled across the entire country.
The Unfortunate Event Is Due To An IT Incident
This unfortunate turn of events can be attributed to an IT incident at TLSContact, the government-appointed IT provider responsible for streamlining visa applications for citizens of third countries. The incident occurred at their centers in Manchester, Edinburgh, and London, as highlighted by SchengenVisaInfo.com.
In light of this development, British residents who hold citizenship in countries that necessitate a visa for travel to European destinations are strongly urged to pursue their visa applications through TLSContact. This applies specifically to those planning to visit Switzerland, Belgium, France, and Germany.
TLSContact Will Personally Arrange The Earliest Appointments For Visa
It is worth noting that all of these countries are part of the EU’s Schengen area, a borderless region that allows individuals with valid tourist or business visas to freely explore
“Due to technical issues, this week’s visa appointments at TLScontact had to be canceled and rescheduled. We are actively working with TLScontact to resolve these problems as quickly as possible.
TLScontact will personally reach out to all applicants to arrange the earliest available appointment,” stated an automated response received by BleepingComputer from the Swiss Embassy’s visa department in London.
Individuals from third countries frequently seek assistance from outsourced IT and visa processing partners, including TLSContact, VFS Global, and BLS International. However, during the busy summer season, there have been numerous instances where the application process does not proceed as planned.
Counterfeit Schengen Visa Appointments Were Being Sold In The UAE
In a previous incident, a spokesperson from VFS Global revealed that fraudsters, posing as employees of the visa application company, were selling counterfeit Schengen visa appointments in the United Arab Emirates.
Furthermore, the spokesperson emphasized that there has been a noticeable rise in the number of individuals engaging in fraudulent activities by offering counterfeit appointment slots. This year, these fraudsters have taken advantage of unsuspecting individuals, resulting in unfortunate incidents where people have arrived at the center with fake appointment confirmations.
Monaz Billimoria, Deputy Head of the UAE at VFS Global, expressed concern over this issue, stating, “We have witnessed an increase in the presence of fraudsters who exploit people by selling fake appointments. It is disheartening to see individuals falling victim to these scams.”
Travel Across Europe Has Increase After Eased COVID Restrictions
The improvement in the epidemiological situation and the relaxation of COVID-related restrictions have led to a significant surge in travel demand across EU countries. This surge in demand has been evident in recent data provided by AirDNA, which revealed a record-breaking increase in occupancy rates in Europe last month.
Occupancy rates reached an impressive 66 percent, while the supply of accommodations remained four percent below pre-pandemic levels. By addressing these issues with clarity and professionalism, we can better understand the challenges posed by fraudsters and the impact of the pandemic on the travel industry.
An ongoing IT issue at TLScontact, Switzerland’s service provider for visa and consular services, has resulted in the cancellation of all Swiss tourist and transit visa appointments in the UK, causing significant disruption among applicants.
The Incident Has Affected TLS Contact Centers In London
This incident has affected TLS contact centers in London, Manchester, and Edinburgh, forcing numerous individuals to make alternative arrangements for their travel plans.
British residents who hold citizenship in countries that require a visa to travel to Europe must go through TLScontact when planning a visit to Switzerland, France, Belgium, or Germany.
These four countries are part of the Schengen area, and possessing a valid tourist or business visa for any one of them automatically grants the applicant travel access to all 27 Schengen countries.
TLScontact operates a vast network of 150 visa application centers spread across 90 countries. The company provides visa processing and IT services to multiple governments.
Together with its competitors VFS Global and BLS International, TLScontact handles millions of visa applications and is responsible for securely storing sensitive information, including biometrics and legal documents.
The recent IT incident has compelled many applicants to cancel their visa appointments.
Currently, the TLScontact website displays a message stating, “Due to an IT incident, all appointment slots are currently suspended.”