The number of travelers from Qatar to Canada is expected to double in the coming year, as a newly-opened visa application center in Doha should make it easier and quicker for visitors to sort through the necessary paperwork.
The Canadian Visa Application Center (CVAC) was formally opened earlier this week and will process temporary resident applications including visitor visas, work and study permits.
The service will likely be welcomed by the 7,200 Canadian expats living in Qatar, and for those wishing to travel to Canada who previously had to turn to offices in Kuwait or the UAE for visa and travel applications.
Located on the third floor of Jaidah Square building on Al Matar Street (Airport Road), the center will be run by VFS Global and operated by Qatar-based Mannai Corporation.
The companies also offer similar visa services in Qatar for those who wish to go to Australia, Bulgaria and the UK.
It is estimated that around 3,000 people a year from Qatar apply for temporary visas.
Farukh Sardar, general manager of Mannai Air Travel, told The Peninsula that he expected increased interest to traveling to Canada with the launch of the new center, estimating that the traffic would double.
In addition to processing visas for visitors to Qatar, the center also handles travel document applications for Canadian residents in Qatar.
It will provide administrative support services such as collecting visa applications and returning passports and can assist in scheduling interviews on behalf of the Canadian visa service, a VFS official said.
However, it cannot influence the outcome of a decision to issue or refuse a visa, which is made by immigration officers of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, a Canadian government agency.
The center will not process immigrant visas, Sardar said.
Canada first opened its Embassy in Qatar in 2012, but it initially operated only in a trade capacity, serving the commercial activities between Qatar and Canada.
Consular services were added in June this year, when the Embassy officially opened on the 30th floor of Tornado Tower in West Bay/Dafna.
The College of North Atlantic-Qatar (CNAQ) and University of Calgary in Qatar nursing school are two of the main Canadian-based employers in Qatar. The Qatar Canadian School also operates in Doha.
Canadian visa applications have hit problems in the past. In September last year, a strike in Canadian missions internationally created a backlog of applications waiting to be processed.
Would the new center encourage you to visit Canada? Thoughts?