Amid rumors surrounding violations in the issuance of visas and other bureaucratic procedures at the French Embassy, Ambassador H.E Claire Le Flecher denied any allegations pointing towards the embassy’s services stressing that officials have zero-tolerance towards abuse of power in the visa centre.

H.E Le Flecher spoke at the press conference responding to circulating rumors on the matter, assuring applicants that the embassy takes into consideration reports and allegations seriously and shall take appropriate actions against offenders anywhere in the world. She also noted that the French diplomatic and consular offices have guaranteed the proficiency of the services in issuing visas for prospective travelers.

She also followed up on the investigation of the credibility of the report, alongside the embassy’s external visa services office, “Capago”, and found no irregularities in the visa services in these centres, adding that any discrepancies in the procedure that could have lured private entities into exploiting the system have been identified and dealt with accordingly.

Le Flecher mentioned that the rumors were all baseless and malicious, as well as, untraceable to a consistent source. She suspected that the story roaming around came about due to the unusually hectic visa applications lately which had caused delays in appointments at the centre, resulting in disappointment from local applicants. It should be noted that as of spring, visa applications had been considerably delayed despite the consular office’s reminder for travelers to apply earlier and secure their visas in advance.

“The French embassy is fully aware of these difficulties, and we deeply regret the inconvenience experienced by travelers. We have taken all available measures to limit the impact of these difficulties, however, given the capacity limits, we have not been in a position to remove them completely, and it may continue until the end of the summer period,” she said.

She stressed that as soon as travel restrictions were lifted post-covid19, visa demand soared and urged the consulate to maximize work as the daily applications of visas spiked from 200 to 300, as such that visas processed from April to June increased from 3,000 to 6,000. In the entire three months, from April to June, 13,000 applications were processed , as compared to 2,400 in 2021.

The embassy has issued exemptions from booking an appointment for visa application and can access the centre without restrictions. Exempted applicants include diplomatic passport holders, military personnel on official duties, traveling for medical reasons with a certificate, students, spouses and children of French citizens, biometric data system, and VIPs.

A mobile application is also available especially for biometric data collection. The app was developed initially for people with disabilities who could not reach the centre. The app is now intended for urgent travel purposes and the electronic system is designed to be anti-fraud according to the ambassador, with a guarantee for reliability, security, and convenience.

The ambassador had listed down its decisions and recommended steps in order to avoid replicating the problem, including prepaying the visa appointment and booking electronically at the same time to verify visa validity; canceling appointments does not guarantee automatic opening of new slots using free capacity. Only free slots reopen later at any time; opening new time slots over a period of 6 months to motivate travelers to submit their visa applications sooner than later, effective from today until the end of 2022; preventing intermediaries from accessing the visa centre, and shall prioritize the applicant’s personal attendance.

Moreover, ambassador Le Flecher stated that the embassy’s consular section shall examine mediation practices and warned the staff to refrain from doing questionable acts that could get them blacklisted, adding that any broker or agency charging unreasonable rates and have exceeded appointment limits shall be blacklisted, as well.

Read Today's News TODAY... on our Telegram Channel click here to join and receive all the latest updates