VFS Global is the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for diplomatic missions and governments worldwide. The company manages visa and passport issuance-related administrative and non-judgmental tasks for its client governments. This enables diplomatic missions of its client governments to focus on the important judgmental part of the visa issuance process.
Keeping in mind that Indians require a visa for many countries, it is no surprise that VFS Global’s business model was created in India in 2001. Back then, like now, governments and their diplomatic missions were beginning to find it very difficult to cope efficiently with the combination of growing demand for travel with stricter controls, improved security and all the implications these factors had for visa processing. The idea that Kuoni India’s management had in 2001 was that it could offer to take on the tedious administrative part of the visa issuance process, which did not lie within the mission’s core competences. This would relieve the missions of this very time consuming task and allow them to focus on the decision making task – i.e. whether an applicant should or should not be granted a visa.
VFS Global was established in Mumbai in 2001, when it set-up three Visa Application Centres (VACs) for its first client government – the United States of America. By 2005 VFS Global served 11 governments – including the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada – with over 100 VACs across 11 countries, and had processed over 2.4 million visa applications. In 2007 it won its first global account – that of the UK Border Agency – for operations across 33 countries. New countries such as India, but also numerous EU countries followed. In 2008 VFS Global initiated the concept of Joint Visa Application Centres (JVAC) for “Schengen” countries in India, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and Ghana. Eastern European and Asian nations, including Russia, Poland, Japan and Thailand also joined VFS Global’s roster of customers. Per 31 December 2012 VFS Global operated 802 Visa Application Centres in 88 countries.
In the past decade the company has developed highly differentiated solutions portfolio including dedicated visa and passport application centres, information services (call centres), web based modules (for appointment scheduling and online payment collection), biometrics solutions development, verification and attestation services, specialised security solutions, etc. Its global operations are certified with ISO 9001:2008 for Quality Management System and ISO 27001:2005 for Information Security Management System.
Processing visa applications requires a very high standard of security and quality. Over the last more than 10 years, VFS Global has invested in cutting-edge data security and quality assurance technology. As a result, it can also process passports of all types. Thanks to its state-of-the-art technology the company can even deal with biometric passports. Processing visa applications involves working with highly sensitive personal data. VFS Global complies with the very highest standards in this regard, and in recent years has won various awards for the strength of its data protection. The very high priority it gives to security has been further highlighted by its investment in a state-of-the-art monitoring system.
Visa Application Centres are run as service centres. They are situated according to the relevant government’s requirements in specific city locations. They accept visa applications directly from applicants or via travel agents, ensure all documentation is in order, complete basic administrative processing work – including data entry, appointment scheduling and biometric enrollment – and pass on the applications to the relevant mission. They are also involved in delivery of passport and documents back to applicants. Computers, photocopiers and passport photo machines are available at the centres if required. Many VAC’s also offer VIP lounges and other value added services for a small fee.
VFS Global’s turnover is from two sources. Firstly from the visa fees that the company receives for its processing work from governments and from the applicants; and secondly from the additional services offered in the VAC.
In countries where, for regulatory or cultural reasons, VFS Global does not operate its own visa offices, a Facility Management Company (FMC) is contracted to carry out VFS Global’s services. These companies manage visa applications in the name of and under the supervision of VFS Global, and they follow the same rules. Each FMC bears the cost of its staff and operations, and earns a share of the revenues that VFS Global generates. These costs and the headcount at these companies are not included in the business figures reported for VFS Global. VFS Global has agreements with 41 FMC partners worldwide.
Working in a highly sensitive environment, VFS Global lays a lot of emphasis on security – data security as well as physical security – and works as per highest international security standards. Stringent controls and processes are in place to monitor and control operations across the world. VFS Global also follows strict guidelines when recruiting employees.