As more Moroccans apply for Schengen visas, the European consular system has become overwhelmed.
Rabat – Moroccan passport holders hoping to travel to Europe this summer might have to push back their plans, according to a recent Medias24 report. Appointments for Schengen visas from Italy, France, and Spain are booked through June, July, and August in Morocco.
Visa appointments for Spain are booked for over six months, while Italy and France have slots open by the end of August. According to the report, these wait times have been increasing. In February, the wait time to apply to a French visit averaged 40-60 days.
The report noted, however, that the wait times only affect applicants for a short-stay Schengen visa, not a student visa or long-term visa.
The delays in the visa process point to an insufficient response on the part of European consular services to growing demand. The Schengen area, which comprises 26 European nations with shared visa and travel policies, has increasingly been a favorite destination for Moroccan travelers.
The number of Schengen visa applications by Moroccan passport holders has increased steadily since 2010, reaching a high last year of 662,578 applications.
That made Morocco seventh out of 169 countries in the number of short-stay Schengen visa applications. About 80% of applicants received visas—a higher number than any other nation in the MENA region.
Most Schengen states (including the Spanish, French, and Italian consulates) contract companies to hold and manage visa appointments. One of these subcontractors, like TLS Contact or BLS International, might receive 3,000 requests for a visa appointment per day.
According to the report, subcontractors like TLS are large enough to accommodate this number of applicants. This means that the delay in appointments results from slowdowns at a higher level, where consulates are reluctant to adjust to and accommodate heightened demand.
However, applications are unlikely to slow. For many Moroccans, a Schengen visa is still worth the wait.