Visa Application Centre Network to Reach Global Proportions

Ottawa, January 31, 2012 — The Government of Canada is planning to expand and standardize its visa application centre (VAC) network into a new global model, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.

“Our goal is for there to be a global VAC network, one with worldwide coverage and services standardized across all locations,” said Minister Kenney. “That way, no matter where you are in the world, you can expect the same service from all the VACs.”

Client service agents at the VACs are available to explain, in local languages, how to fill out forms and ensure that applications are complete. They play no role in the decision-making process and are expressly forbidden to provide any visa-related advice to applicants. However, since 2000, VACs have helped provide administrative support to visa and immigrant applicants before, during and after their application is assessed at a Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) visa office. By making the process between the applicant and the visa office as fluid and efficient as possible, VACs help make Canada a preferred destination for travellers.

Until now, VAC expansion was limited to where there was access to service providers and where volumes in applications would justify opening a VAC. Through a global contract, CIC is able to open VACs in areas that were previously out of reach. This service improvement means applicants no longer have to spend time and money travelling to a visa office if they choose to use a VAC closer to their home.

The new model will also offer standardized services in both low- and high-volume areas, which will ensure consistency in service across the globe.

A Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued today on MERX and will be open for submissions for 40 days. The goal of the RFP is to open the bidding for the global contract to vendors who will design and implement core administrative support services at VACs, including some with biometric enrolment capabilities.

“As we move toward starting the roll-out of biometrics in 2013, ensuring that applicants have enhanced access to enrol their biometrics is a primary consideration,” added Minister Kenney. “VACs are the key to supporting the implementation of biometrics in Canada’s immigration program by offering greater access to applicants through more points of service.”

CIC currently has 60 VACs in 41 countries. Under the new global VAC model, CIC envisions expanding this network to up to 150 VACs by 2014.

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For further information (media only), please contact:

Candice Malcolm
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Building a stronger Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strengthens Canada’s economic, social and cultural prosperity, helping ensure Canadian safety and security while managing one of the largest and most generous immigration programs in the world.

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