General

Visa applications to Canada made easy

Only nine Belizeans have emigrated to work at fast-food restaurants like Mcdonalds in Canada since the Canadian employment agency ACTYL began recruiting in Belize last December.

Part of the reason is that the visa application process can take up to three months, and does not come cheap. The entire process, including medical examinations can cost up to $1,000.

A new policy announced by the Canadian government may change that as Canada seeks to facilitate immigrants applying for a visa to enter Canada. Belize once had a resident High Commissioner of Canada, but today there is only an Honorary Consul on Princess Margaret Drive in Belize City. The nearest embassy is in Guatemala City.

To make the entire process easier and more convenient, the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Service is expanding its network of Visa Application Centers (VAC) around the world to provide administrative support to applicants before, during and after their temporary resident application is assessed by a Canadian immi-gration officer.

Service agents at the centers answer questions in local languages by phone, email or in person to help the applicant complete his application, so as to avoid unnecessary delays or refusals, simply for want of a complete applications.

The centers also  provide photocopying services for a fee, as well as photographs to accompany the application.

Those wishing to apply online may use one of the self-service computer terminals at the center. The centers play no role in the visa approval process and are not authorized to provide applicants with advice about their visas.

An aging work force in Canada, with most young Canadians not wanting to work in the fast foot sector, is part of the reason ACTYL set up a local office in Belize City in May this year. The company says they find Belizeans very employable in Canada, because of their fluent English and other skills, and they have over 200 applications on file.

One of the new Canadian visa application centers recently opened in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and with any luck, Belize may be next on the list.

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