Ana-Marie Spain (centre) from the Canadian embassy led the opening of the visa application centre yesterday.
By Joey Aguilar/Staff Reporter
The Canadian embassy in Doha has outsourced its visa application process to VFS Global. Operated by Mannai Corporation, the new Canadian visa application centre (CVAC) operates from the third floor of Jaidah Square building, Al Matar Street (Airport Road).
Farukh Sardar, general manager at Mannai Air Travel, told reporters that the CVAC will process temporary resident applications such as visitor visas, study and work permits. It will also process travel document applications from Canadian permanent residents in Qatar.
In a press statement, VFS Global said it will establish a network of up to 125 CVACs worldwide.
“Now that the embassy is here, and the visa facility is here, I’m sure trade and everything will change,” said Sardar. “Earlier, people had to go to Abu Dhabi to do the same work.”
Asked how many applicants they expect, he noted that the Canadian embassy had only given the centre estimates of about 3,000 applications per year.
However, Sardar believes that more residents will visit the Doha centre since “it is not easy to go to Abu Dhabi to apply and then come back.”
About the number of students who want to study in Canada, the centre does not have the numbers at present.
Like other outsourcing companies, the CVAC has no role or influence on the outcome of the application, Sardar said.
Immigration officers of Citizenship and Immigration Canada have the sole authority to approve or reject applications based on their visa rules and guidelines.
Visa application centres usually provide administrative support services such collecting the needed documents as well as returning passports in sealed envelopes to applicants.
Sardar said the CVAC also assists in scheduling interviews on behalf of the Canadian visa office. He also stressed that they do not process immigrant visas.
Business hours are from 9am to 5pm Sunday to Thursday. The centre, which started operating on October 22, accepts applications from 9am to 4pm (except listed holidays) and passports can be collected from 3pm to 5pm.
With Qatar Airways flying three times a week directly to Montreal, the opening of the CVAC will provide an opportunity for Qataris to visit Canada and vice-versa, the official said.
Qatar, UAE and Oman nationals can now travel to the UK without applying for a visa. Instead, they register online through the Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) at least 48 hours in advance or earlier before their flight.
The system automatically sends an e-mail containing the document (in PDF file) which can be accessed anywhere in the world. Like an e-ticket, the printed copy of the EVW should be presented to immigration authorities upon entering or exiting the UK.
The British embassy earlier noted that it recorded an increase in the number of visitors from UAE, Qatar and Oman.
Other European countries such as France has also “externalised” its visa application due to the increasing number of Qataris and expatriates who want to visit Paris and other places in France.
The French embassy had stated that it recorded more than 16,000 applicants in the first nine months of 2013, higher than the 15,000 applicants for the whole 2012.
The French, British, Australian and Canadian visa application centres also operate from the Jaidah Square building.
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