The Embassies of Spain and Slovakia will reissue visas for no additional charge for Indians who had been granted a visa earlier this year, but couldn’t travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While this may come as welcome news for Indians who wished to visit for tourism, the arrangement covers all categories offered under the Schengen visa. To avail of the gratis visa for Slovakia, applicants can register a request for a visa fee waiver while filing a new visa application. For Spain however, the request must be routed through BLS, an organisation that processes Spain visas in India. Additionally, applicants will have to pay the service tax to BLS.
The decision came after the Outbound Tour Operators Association of India wrote to European Embassies asking them to grant gratis visas to Indians who could not travel because of the pandemic. Though Spain and Slovakia are the only countries who have confirmed such an arrangement, the OTOAI hopes that more European countries will respond positively to their appeal.
The Economic Times quotes OATAI President Riaz Munshi as saying, “We are pleased with this development and remain hopeful that in times to come, more European Embassies agree to issue Gratis Visa. We understand that it will take some time for outbound travel to pick up from India but moves such as these will help in building people’s confidence for international travel while also offering some relief to their pocket.”