This is an account of my experience with VFS global in Malaysia. Please understand that everyone’s visa application situation is different and I am in no position to offer any advice on what you should do. I am simply giving my account as i felt some comfort reading about other people’s account when i went through this terrible experience with VFS Global and thought it could help someone.
I have divided this post into several sections so that you can skip the whole narrative of the entire process and go to the section that you’re most interested in. The sections are:
- Basic information about my visa application situation
- The appointment phase
- After the appointment, 15 working days processing time phase
- The collection email and getting my husband’s passport phase
- Going to VFS without a confirmation email
Note: Each situation may vary for each individual.
Basic information about my visa application situation:
I applied for the Tier 4 Student visa, i made my application in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, I did not pay for any premiums nor did I pay for it to be delivered to my home address. Btw, my husband and i applied together which is key to this experience of mine.
The Appointment phase
My appointment was on 9th August 2019 and it took about 3 hours to hand in my passport which is ridiculous, the reason being that they only had one counter open to scan your biometrics. I was annoyed especially when i wanted to buy some water for my husband (the water dispenser in the waiting area was broken/had no water) and was told to wait till i had scanned my biometrics to buy water. The boy was even snarky and said that if i left the waiting area, i would have to wait all over again. It had already taken an hour and a half just for 30 numbers to be called, and i had to wait for another 30 numbers to be called to get my biometrics. It was a good thing that i ignored the snark remark made by the boy at the counter because a) he wasn’t there to make sure i stayed in the waiting room b) i was right, it did take that long. I just said that i needed to go to the bathroom which was outside and happily made my way to buy some water and even run some errands! (Please note that i first handed my documents to the counter then waited for them to call my name to return my passport then only did i leave. Make sure you get your passport back first before leaving the waiting room area).We were told that since it was a Friday, the 15 working days processing time will only be counted starting from Monday, even though it was a holiday in Malaysia because it wasn’t a holiday in the philippines (more about this later). At the end of the three hours i was tired and felt i had wasted so much time just waiting to do something so simple. Who knew that this was just the tip of the iceberg.
After the appointment, 15 working days processing time phase:
On Monday we got an email saying that our passports had been received at the processing centre at Sheffield, which is a huge lie because i was told by the staff that they processed it in the Philippines. I don’t understand why they needed to lie and say Sheffield, maybe it’s to legitimise their scheme? Come on VFS Global, we know the UK government has already outsourced the visa processing to your company, we don’t need a show. So the wait begun. By right, 15 working days from 12th August (monday) would mean that it would be done on the 30th August.
The collection email and getting my husband’s passport phase:
However, on 23 August (Friday), my husband received an email that his passport and visa were ready for collection. Was it approved or rejected? It didn’t say. Worried that it was rejected, we made it a point to go on Monday so that if it was rejected we would have enough time to reapply. At this point, i had not gotten an email and didn’t think much of it.
Monday came along and we went there at 3.20pm, by then the line for collection was so long that it had snaked a couple of times around the outside of the office. Please note that the time listed on the receipt for collection is 3pm. So the wait began, I left my husband at the office to collect his passport and I went shopping to kill time thinking it would take only an hour at most, after all, they just had to give him the passport right? Wrong. It took three hours, and it was three hours of standing, you’re not allowed to sit in the waiting area.
After that long ordeal, my husband got his passport back and it was approved. I think it’s a terrible thing that they don’t tell you if your visa has been approved until you collect it, why is it so difficult to add in an extra line to reassure someone instead of leaving them anxious and wondering?
Anyways, when he got his passport, it suddenly dawned upon us that we were going to Singapore on the weekend and I needed my passport! This was when I got really worried. My passport should technically be done by Friday, but what if we could only collect it on Monday? We would have missed our flight and trip.
We prayed and hoped that if my husband had gotten his passport then there would be a chance that mine was done too. I went online and started reading and watching YouTube videos about how bad this company was not just in Malaysia but worldwide too. If you’re interested in reading it here’s the link https://www.trustpilot.com/review/vfsglobal.com.
Going to VFS without a confirmation email:
Please note i’m basing this on what i experienced in the Kuala Lumpur centre. Situations may vary for different centres. Information is correct at the time of writing this post.
Before i begin with my experience, if you’re here to know whether you can go to the Kuala Lumpur centre without a confirmation email (as of Aug 2019), the answer is yes. This is because, when you’re there, they do not ask to see the confirmation email. They will ask you to hand them the receipt that you were given after your appointment. With that, they will scan the barcode and that will tell them if the centre has received your passport or not.
These are my observations from my time waiting.
- What time should i go to the centre? The collection time stated on the receipt is 3pm, however, i went there at 1.50 pm just to start lining up. I was second in line. By 3pm, the line had snaked a couple of rounds. If you came at 3pm, expect to wait at least 2 1/2 hours to collect your passport. (This is for peak periods)
- Tips on lining up: There is nothing to indicate where the line starts and ends, well, the line gets really long and snaky so they can’t do much about it, so ask anyone you see if they are at the end of the line, do not simply line up and assume you’re in the right line.
- Speaking of which, I was applying for the UK where the amount of applicants was huge, there were others who applied for Canada and they were able to go in quickly because they were on a different line. So please save yourself the hassle and ask. Ask the people lining up, ask the officers there. Double check also cause sometimes, people give you the wrong information.
- As stated above, the collection process goes like this. You wait in line. They come up to you and ask for your receipt, in exchange, they give you a number. They will go in and scan your receipt to see if your passport is with them in the centre, if it is you will proceed inside where they will hand you your passport after you have shown some proof of identification. If not, please come back again.
- But i called the UK Embassy directly. Because i was at the front of the line, i managed to see the complaint line. This might just be for the Kuala Lumpur centre but those who had complaints such as “It has been more than 15 working days and i have not received a confirmation email” or “I called the UK embassy directly and was told that my passport has been couriered back, but i didn’t receive an email” were put in the line where the guard would attend to them. Let me address the latter and what i saw unfold. There was a guy who also needed his passport as he was going overseas for a holiday the next day. He said he had called the UK embassy and was told that the passport was in the centre. He was in the line that i was in but was put in the complaint line. After a lot of complaining, the guard finally took his receipt and went in to get it scanned. At first it came out with nothing, but the guy insisted that it was there, he was then asked to wait. When it came for his turn for his complaint to be addressed, he was brought into the waiting area and then came out with his passport. I don’t know why he got to cut the line, but the complaint line worked for his.
- Complaint line situation 2 “I paid for premium service and still have not gotten an email after 8 working days”. There was a girl who had paid for premium service, and she actually went on the same appointment date as i did. Meaning that, she should have gotten her passport way before me, but here we were. So they took her from the line i was in and put her in the complaint line. They scanned her code two times and both times it said that her passport was not there. Unlike the first situation, she was not brought into the waiting area. My guess is that the other guy got confirmation from the UK embassy that it was there while she did not. She was turned away and couldn’t do anything about it.
- Complaint line situation 3 “I have not received an email even after 15 working days”. This is the standard one, no premium service paid. She was also taken out of the line and put into the complaint line. They scanned her barcode actually found her passport in the centre, unfortunately, the time taken to process her complain was from about 2.15pm to 3.15 pm and by the time she was told that her passport was there, she had to que all over again, it so happened that where she stood was now the end of the line. Like i said before, if you come about 3 or 3.15 pm, expect to wait for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. This, i felt sad for her too because she was not allowed to go back to where she was in line previously but had to wait all over again. Here’s a tip that i’ve learnt from this situation. If you want to complain, bring someone with you to stand in the normal line. At least when your complaint is done (ex. you know your passport is in the centre) then you don’t have to wait too long. They only need the proof of identification at the end, so technically, anyone can stand in line.
- What system do they use to locate my passport (when you know it’s in the centre)? Well, there’s the scanning, but that only tells them that it’s in the centre. It does not tell them which box it’s in or its exact location. For my situation, there was a row of boxes filled with envelopes with barcodes. It was not put in any order because it took them forever to locate my passport.
In the end i did get my passport, but they did not email me a confirmation email. Ironically, half an hour after i collected my passport then only did the email stating that my passport could be collected was received. I don’t know if it’s because they scanned my barcode and it generated an email or something else. Overall, the experience with VFS and applying for my UK visa was bad. This made the US visa application process look like a walk in the park. UK please consider doing the visa application yourself or find a better solution.
- Additional services: DO NOT, i repeat, DO NOT under any circumstances pay for the additional services such as scanning, mailing the passport to your home address or expedited services. You’re burning your money. Also, throwing more money at the company will not help too, they have a monopoly on this and don’t care about their customers complaints.
- The website is apparently garbage, my husband had a difficult time uploading the documents. I have read other accounts where they were unable to upload anything.
- Appointment phase: Be prepared to wait for hours during peak periods. I had to take half day of leave for this.
- Staff: Rude and the appointment centre was severely understaffed. The first lady i met told me that she had been serving customers for 2 1/2 hours straight. For the amount of money they scam from others, they could afford to hire more people. Also, the staff will not allow you to speak to a supervisor or manager, they’re really good at keeping you outside, waiting without any result.
- Emails: You may be lucky to get emails from them, you may not. I have read from the forum that emailing them is almost useless because their replies are the standard ones that don’t tell you anything and you are unable to contact them by phone call (i tried)
- passport: please take a picture of the condition of your passport before you hand it to them. In some videos and forums, i read that the passport was returned torn and the customer blamed for giving a passport in bad condition. Terrible and dishonest. So, this may not stop your passport from being torn but at least you have evidence to protect yourself from blame.