Travellers wishing to travel to the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and other European countries face travel inconveniences after very long delays in visa processing caused by airport chaos at the main EU passenger connecting points to be exacerbated.
The delays have inconvenienced thousands of people who wished to travel to these countries for business, leisure and education as they now have to wait months longer for their visas.
Britain’s High Commissioner for Kenya, Jane Marriott, on Saturday confirmed deep delays in visa applications, described as a “global challenge” due to a backlog of unprocessed documents during the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that has not been processed (and) the various global issues and crises that are taking place, but also an unprecedented demand for visas,” she said made the situation worse and set an example where visa applications from students applying to study in the UK have doubled to 600,000 applications this year, up from 300,000 in 2019.
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Delays in visa processing have also been observed in the US, with Bloomberg reporting in March that the estimated wait time for a work permit has increased from around three months in 2020 to eight to 12 months, citing US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data.
USCIS data shows that while there were 637,800 pending US visa applications in the fourth quarter of 2019, that number fell by 1.5 million in the same quarter last year has increased sharply in terms of immigrants and other individuals wishing to travel to the United States.
Ms. Marriott has advised individuals wishing to travel to the United Kingdom to stay at least six weeks en to apply in advance, even though the UK has frozen its preferred visa service for new work, study and family visa applications.
“If you want to go to the UK, whether that s , in business or in tourism please apply six weeks in advance. Also due to the pressure on the service, we cannot offer our preferred visa service,” she said.
“So, if you are a business person who is used to getting your visa in five days, I’m really sorry but it will take six weeks.”
This comes at a time when passengers are currently experiencing delays in transferring their checked items, including bags and suitcases, to major European destinations airports are being harassed.
Since last weekend, London’s main airport, Heathrow, has experienced major baggage system failures, which have been blamed for a huge baggage backlog at the airport’s Terminal 2 since last Friday.
Some passengers complained of two hour waits, while others had no luggage at all and had to fly without their luggage.
Flights from Schiphol, Amsterdam and other European airports are on hold due to baggage handling Another challenge is a labor shortage.
This has affected Kenya Airways and other airlines serving key routes in Europe. Thousands of travelers are frustrated.
“This has impacted the timely processing of baggage to catch pre-departure flights and unfortunately several customers’ bags have been delayed. It has also impacted most airlines and baggage transfers from other airlines to Kenya Airways,” said Julius Thairu, KQ’s Chief Commercial and Customer Officer.
UK airports have been hit by a series of travel disruptions since the start of the peak travel season in the summer amid severe labor shortages.
Some UK airlines such as TUI and EasyJet have even taken drastic steps, canceling dozens of flights a week to improve customer service and reliability on the remaining routes.
EasyJet has even removed some aircraft seats to reduce crew levels.
But airport chaos isn’t unique to the UK. Scenes of chaos were witnessed at some European airports such as Dublin, Ireland, and Schiphol, Amsterdam over the last week as people began venturing abroad prompted by shortages of baggage handlers, security and flight crews that have become huge Queues, missed flights and angry customers.