Starting from April 16, applications for an entry visa to France should no longer be submitted at the French general consulate located in downtown Tunis.
According to an official statement released by the general consulate of France in Tunis, application will be outsourced to a multinational company called TLS Contact, situated in Les Berges du Lac, a district close to the northern suburbs of Tunis. TLS Contact was chosen by the French embassy in January 2012 to process visa applications amidst a corporate bidding process that had been open since October 2011.
The visa applicant will have to log on to the TLS Contact company’s website and fix an appointment in order to be able to submit his or her visa application. Starting from April 10, applicants will be able to fix their appointments by phone as well.
When submitting the visa application, applicants are required to pay the equivalent of 25 euros as a processing fee to the company, in addition to the cost of the visa charged by the French government.
According to the same official communiqué, the decision of the French Embassy in Tunis to contract out visa processing to TLS Contact was concluded after the consulate witnessed a sharp rise in the volume of visa applications – with peaks exceeding 600 applications submitted per day.
The communiqué claims that the waiting period to get an appointment will be considerably reduced as a result of the new procedures.
With the changes, the French embassy aims to improve their visa services, which have been marked by congestion lately. The applications will be, henceforth, “received in a comfortable, air-conditioned and adequate location” and applicants will no longer be compelled to queue up for long hours in front of the embassy.
Although the changes will have the potential to facilitate the process of applying for a French visa, many of the visa applicants queuing up this morning by the French embassy in Tunis had a different opinion.
“The French want to kick us out of their territories. That’s their main aim behind complicating the visa-granting procedure all the more. Imposing 25 euros in addition to the unchanged visa fees is just a way to discourage Tunisians from travelling to France,” said Zied, a Tunisian young citizen who has been queuing up since 8 a.m. in front of the embassy to submit his visa application.
Mohamed, a 30-year Tunisian citizen who came all the way from Sousse to Tunis to submit a visa application at the French consulate, looked very tired and impatient. “The first objective of this outsourcing company is not the citizen’s well-being but it is visibly making more profit. Profit is what ultimately matters.”