By Saeid Jafari, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
Iranians who wish to travel to the European Union face myriad challenges, in particular obtaining visas. Indeed, the state of political relations between Tehran and the EU states has made the visa application process difficult for citizens of Iran.
These difficulties have in turn led to the emergence of a “visa mafia” of sorts, in the form of travel agents who help Iranians obtain visas. Under the current circumstances, even booking an appointment for a visa interview has become almost impossible.
For instance, to travel to France, Iranian applicants first need to schedule an appointment for an interview through the French Embassy’s website. On the surface, everything appears to go smoothly, but the response many encounter is that their desired time slot is unavailable.
More often than not, multiple emails and other approaches to the embassy are required before an interview can be scheduled, typically for two or three months down the line. There is, however, a shortcut.
Searching “scheduling visa appointments” (in Persian) online returns all kinds of agencies and companies offering to help Iranians obtain visas immediately. Al-Monitor contacted one such agency claiming to help with scheduling appointments and obtaining visas.
Contrary to assertions made on its website, the agency said it could not arrange a single appointment at the French Embassy. The young woman on the other end of the line, however, expanded on the many other available options for securing a visa to Europe.