Britons are facing a struggle in getting appointment slots to apply for visas for extended stays in France over the peak summer season.
TLScontact, the private firm that visa applicants have to take supporting paperwork to, reports being fully booked at its three UK centres until July.
As there can be a wait of several weeks after a visit, to allow French consular officials to process the application, a visa starting early summer appears impossible for the time being.
TLScontact's UK helpline also confirmed technical issues with its website meaning it is currently not possible to book at all.
However it said more slots could be opened up and people should keep trying.
An appointment at TLScontact is the second stage for Britons applying for a visa to stay for more than three months at a time in France. An online application has to be made at france-visas.gouv.fr, after which people have to log onto the website of TLScontact's UK-based services to book to take their papers to one of its UK centres in Manchester, London or Edinburgh.
An alternative fast-track service where officials come to your home is available at a substantial additional cost (one reader reports being cited over €900 for this option for his wife and himself).
No other way to make appointment
One reader reported being told by the service that “they had no idea when the website would be working again and there was no other way to make an appointment”.
Another, seeking a visa to spend four months at her holiday home, was told that the firm was “upgrading systems worldwide” which was why the site was not currently operational, “but she should try every day.”
In addition some phone numbers listed for the service in the UK have not been working, although The Connexion was able to get through on +44 20 38 32 30 11.
There is also confusion around the business’ status, as the website’s owner – TLS Group S.A. – is listed as having been removed from the Luxembourg businesses register on January 27, which would usually indicate that it closed down.
We queried this with the French consulate and are awaiting a reply.
TLScontact's UK website (which The Connexion was unable to access at the time of writing) states that TLScontact is present in 90 countries and runs 150 visa centres for governments around the world. It also states it is part of Paris-based Teleperformance Group, a global services firm which uses the slogan ‘each interaction matters’ and which reported revenue of €8billion in 2022.
We called the headquarters of Teleperformance but were told that we must ask to be put through to a named person and could not speak to anyone without this. We were then given an email address for a press contact that returned an error message.
We will publish any updates on our website.