Norway’s new visa centre in Arkhangelsk opened on Tuesday this week with flags and the same smiling personnel as VFS Global is famous for at their nearly 1.800 application centres worldwide.
The question is whether all visa applicants in Arkhangelsk have equivalent smiles as they get familiar with the new rules.
“For a visa, you will now have to pay a visa fee of €35, as well as service fee of currently 1.720 rubles,” reads information posted on the portal of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat. It was the Arkhangelsk office of the secretariat that earlier handled visa applications to Norway for the local residents.
The €35 visa fee is standard for all Schengen countries. An additional 1.720 rubles service fee covers the costs of VFS Global. Before, people in Arkhangelsk paid 950 rubles in fee when applying for a visa at the Barents Secretariat office. The increase is 770 rubles (€10), but could be even more if the ruble tumbles further.
The head of the Barents office in Arkhangelsk, Andrey Shalyov, also serves as Norway’s Honorary Consul in town. He confirms that the processing time for a visa was faster before the new visa centre opened this week.
“Our normal term was 10 days, but quite often we made so-called urgent visas. They could be done in 3-4 days. But these cases were solved only under an agreement with the General Consulate,” says Andrey Shalyov to BarentsObserver.
The new recommendation is four weeks. “Now, it is recommended to apply for visa at least one month before planned trip as now handling will take two calendar weeks,” reads the information portal.
If you have time and extra cash it is no problem; the new visa centre is more convenient.
“For some applicants it is easier because everything can be done in one place, filling the applications, copying, payment, photo and insurance,” explains Shalyov.
Although applications can be delivered and visas be picked up in Arkhangelsk, the processing of the visa itself is done at Norway’s Consulate General in Murmansk.
So far this year, the number of applications is down some 20 percent in Arkhangelsk. From 2.531 the first eight months 2014 to 2.080 the same period this year.
The new visa centre in Arkhangelsk will soon also handle applications for Schengen visas to Spain and the Czech Republic, reports Pravda Severa.
In addition to Arkhangelsk, Norway now have visa centres in Perm, Omsk, Saratov, Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Irkutsk, Ufa, Kaliningrad, Rostov, Kazan, Krasnoyarsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Krasnodar, Samara, Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, St. Petersburg, Moscow and Murmansk.