Canada Immigration Improves Efficiency
“Visa Application Centres to open around the world to assist travellers coming to Canada
February 23, 2018 – Ottawa, ON – Visa Application Centres (VAC) are a very cost-effective way for the Government of Canada to provide services to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) applicants around the world …”
Canada hopes to improve efficiency by using a third party agency to help process certain immigration applications.
Unfortunately, the immigration and visa office websites do not offer very clear instructions on how this new process will work. The instructions actually say:
“You can submit your application to the recommended visa application centre (VAC).”
It sounds like an applicant may choose to use a VAC or not. Some applicants may not want to pay the extra fees and sign the additional releases and authorizations to use a VAC.
It was quite a surprise to receive the following email:
“… we received by mail your documents (regarding Client X). The Canadian Embassy in Ankara is no longer accepting mail-in applications. You have to submit your application or passport by mail/courier or in-person to the Visa Application Center (VAC).”
Apparently there is no choice with mail in applications. Applicants must use the VAC if available.
The next sentence in the email was alarming:
“We will keep your documents for 30 days. If you would like to have your documents back, send a prepaid envelope with a copy of this email at the address below. After this period, if we did not get an envelope, all the documents sent will be destroyed.”
Destroy? The client’s passport was in that package!
Anxious internet searches and phone calls are made to the Turkish postal service, UPS, DHL, and Federal Express to try and arrange for this prepaid envelope requested by the visa office. It turns out, none of the couriers or Turkish postal service offer prepaid envelopes!
Emails and facsimiles, all marked “URGENT”, are sent to the visa office trying to seek clarification on their instructions and begging them not to destroy our client’s passport. The result, useless automated responses and then 14 days of frightening silence.
A celebration practically breaks out when the long awaited response to one of our multiple inquiries arrives. We received this email,
“As we advised you before, the Canadian Embassy in Ankara is no longer accepting mail-in applications. You have to submit your application or passport by mail/courier or in-person to the Visa Application Center (VAC) … We will keep your documents for 30 days … send a prepaid envelope … if we did not get an envelope, all the documents sent will be destroyed.”
Another phone call to the visa office by the client is useless because the receptionist will not connect applicants to an immigration officer, has no information herself, and directs callers back to the website. Emails and facsimiles are sent again, marked “URGENT, URGENT, URGENT” despite the warning on the automated response.
“Please do not send repeat enquiries, as those will be deleted. We will contact you if and when necessary.”
Wonder what constitutes necessary?
This time the silence only lasted 4 days.
“We will hold on to your documents. As a common practice we might recommend that you contact UPS or any other courier service provider, generate a prepaid package label (please see attached) and attach it by simply replying to this email. We will arrange the pickup once we receive the requested document.”
A prepaid package label is sent to the visa office, the passport and application are returned, the application is then sent to the VAC, the VAC sends the package back to the visa office, and weeks later the visa office sends an email instructing us to submit a passport to finalize the process. But the passport was in the original application package!
This time the VAC clears it up with the visa post.
Kudos to Canada for trying to make their immigration processes more accessible using VACs but clear instructions and responding to inquiries will help too.