As reported by Schengenvisainfo.com, Indians looking to apply for a Schengen visa – that have had their previous Schengen visas expired without being used due to COVID-19 – will be eligible for applying for a new visa-free of charge once the Embassies and borders reopen.

An announcement in this regard was made by the Outbound Tour Operators’ Association of India [OTOAI]. The Association has asked all embassies of different European countries in India to issue gratis visas to Indians that could not utilize their Schengen visas due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions.

Slovakia and Spain have responded positively to the request, agreeing to lift the visa charge for Indians in this situation.

The development indeed holds hope that in the coming days, more European countries are likely to follow suit by agreeing to issue gratis visas.

By a “gratis visa” is implied a visa wherein there is a waiver of the visa fees involved.

Confirmation of the decision has been made by Ivan Lancaric, the Slovak Ambassador to India.

The Slovak Ambassador to India has said that the visa section of the Embassy of Slovakia would provide assistance to travellers to Slovakia in this regard on their reapplying for a Schengen visa.

As per the Slovak Ambassador, applicants that we’re unable to travel to Slovakia on their Schengen visa due to the COVID-19 related travel restrictions, can “apply for this visa fee waiver individually at the time of the submission of their new application”. All Schengen visa categories are to be included in this decision.

Spain has also confirmed the decision, stating that applications are to be filed only through the visa processing company BLS.

Applicants whose Schengen visa validity has not started can get their period of visa validity changed through BLS.

Certain embassies have earlier taken the same approach to come to the aid of holders of valid visas that were unused due to the coronavirus pandemic.