Brokers scheduling Schengen visa appointments has become a common practice in Morocco, and this activity is putting Moroccan travellers at a disadvantage.
According to DW, unauthorised brokers are managing appointments required to submit visas for Schengen visas by using automated bots to reserve appointments to later sell them to Moroccans that are desperately trying to book such appointments, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
Reportedly prices for visa appointments can reach €1,000, which is a considerable amount, provided that the average monthly salary in Morocco is €357. On the other hand, booking an appointment through visa centres is nearly impossible to do as all the free appointments are instantly reserved by these bots.
Such activity isn’t necessarily criminal, as, in fact, it isn’t illegal to reserve several appointments nor to sell them, but this phenomenon causes Moroccans to pay higher prices to book an appointment and impacts the visa centres authorised to receive visa applications.
TLScontact is the main visa appointment allocator for German and French consulates, whereas the Dutch and Italian work with VFS Global and BLS International for Spanish consulates.
As DW explains, these authorised service providers charge fees accordingly to the length of the stay abroad, with a starting price of €80 for a short-term tourist visa application appointment.
Human rights advocates in Morocco are concerned about this phenomenon, with Adil Tchikitou, director of the Moroccan League for the Defense of Human Rights (LMDDH), pointing out there is little interest in solving this issue by the authorities.
“Most embassies are aware that appointments are brokered but have demonstrated little interest in solving this in over a year,” he told DW.
He turned to European officials, but no changes have been made so far, while some embassies, such as the Dutch Foreign Ministry, say they are combating unauthorised brokers for Schengen visa appointments by using a digital waiting list that enables them to sell or resell appointments.
Additionally, BLS International introduced a system that determines whether applicants are human beings or bots attempting to reserve appointments, as bookings are available only if an individual photo can be compared to the passport photo.
SchengenVisaInfo.com recently reported that the number of Moroccan nationals receiving a negative response for their Schengen visa applications was considerably high in 2022, placing Morocco among the countries with the highest rejection rates for another year.
More specifically, data from Schengen Visa Statistics reveals that the total number of applications submitted by Moroccan applicants was 423,201 in 2022, while 30 per cent of these visa applicants were rejected.