People, Travel

French Embassy Denies Visa Profiteering Scam

French Embassy Denies Visa Profiteering ScamFrench Embassy Denies Visa Profiteering Scam

The French Embassy in Iran has rejected accusations of fraud in its outsourced visa section in a statement on its official website.  

The embassy has entrusted visa-related tasks to the private VFS Global Company located in Tehran's uptown Palladium Shopping Center since 18 July.

An applicant, who had recently referred to the VFS office, criticized the embassy for creating a black market, ISNA reported.

Jamshid Moradian, a sculptor, had told the news agency that in and around the VFS office whose staff is Iranian, middlemen offer quick visas in return for €1,800 ($2,140).

"Before, applicants would simply refer to the embassy and obtain a visa for €60 ($71)," he said, urging the Foreign Ministry to investigate the profiteering scam.

The French Embassy has dismissed the charges, maintaining that the report has been based on the personal observation of a single applicant and is therefore baseless.

According to the embassy's announcement, VFS Global is the only office qualified to receive and process applicants' documents and set appointments for visa interview through a safe procedure for €25 ($30), in addition to the €60 for visa issuance.

Nevertheless, neither VFS nor any other travel agent is eligible to review the files and issue visas, and the task is solely performed by French consular officials.

The French Embassy has warned Iranians about any offer of early appointment and quick visa issuance for exorbitant sums by people around the VFS office or in the cyberspace.

VFS Global is an outsourcing service specialist for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide. The company manages visa and passport issuance-related administrative and non-discretionary tasks for its client governments.  

The company initiated its activity in Iran in 2015 following the reestablishment of the British Embassy.

Today, the embassies of South Africa, Cyprus, India, Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Austria and France have assigned visa-related tasks to the company with the aim of facilitating consular processes and increasing the number of issued visas.

Speaking to ISNA, Mohammad Hossein Kermani, the former head of travel agents' guild association, said outsourcing is an effective way of facilitating administrative processes.

Kermani maintained that the embassies and the Foreign Ministry are responsible for preventing any fraudulent activity around their offices. 

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