With globalization, in Europe more and more performances and cooperations are requested from artists and creatives from third countries. At the same time, since the beginning of the European financial crisis, public funds for art and cultural programs are released for shorter and shorter periods.
In parallel, the German diplomatic missions in many third countries are faced with an ever increasing number of visa applicants. This development has led to prolonged visa processing times in some places. The Foreign Office has taken steps to counter this negative development for the customers of visa offices:
Many diplomatic missions have started to allocate dates for submission of visa applications, either online or through other companies, in order to channel the high volume of applications and avoid the often long queues at the visa offices.
Group appointments are possible in most cases. Special appointments may be arranged in unforeseeably urgent cases.
Early arrangement of appointments and submission of all supporting documents (please note the relevant information sheets!) can shorten the visa application process and helps to avoid additional time-consuming inquiries.
Another measure in countries with particularly high application volumes (including Russia, China, and Turkey) was the outsourcing of visa processing to external service providers. Similar measures are pending in additional countries (such as India).
Outsourcing of the visa process does away with the requirement to personally apply for a visa at the foreign diplomatic mission. The elimination of the personal interview is beneficial, particularly in large countries, as long journeys to the diplomatic missions are no longer necessary.
This does not apply to all types of visas, however: National visa still must be applied for in person at the foreign diplomatic mission.
There are generally no waiting times in the external centers.
If possible difficulties in the visa process cannot be resolved directly between the applicant and the diplomatic representation, the unit responsible for individual cases of visa law at the Foreign Office is available for assistance (e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org).
In December 2012, On the Move published the “Artists’ mobility and visas: a step forward” report which contains tips, experiences, and recommendations and can be found here.