05 December 2009

Cambodia - please give generously

We at Visa Services Canada support a charity in Cambodia, and we want to share this charity with you in the hope you will help.

Every year VSC gives a few tonnes of rice to the LIFE AND HOPE ASSOCIATION. The rice is purchased locally in Cambodia, so the money goes to rice farmers and local producers, as well as the food going to needy locals.

The LIFE AND HOPE ASSOCIATION in Siem Reap (the home of Angkor Wat) Cambodia is a non-profit, non-governmental and non-political organization, established in 2005 by the Young Monks of Wat Damnak, Young Khmer Youths and generous friends. These people saw the urgent needs of orphans, vulnerable children, poor children, street Children, (also called Rubbish Children and beggar children) etc, who are living miserable lives. LHA is dedicated and committed to alleviate the poverty and ignorance of Cambodians and to encourage their equal treatment in Cambodian society by providing physical and moral support.

LHA works with several active villages in and surrounding the Siem Reap and Bakong District, with aim to alleviate poverty/difficulty of poor families, especially Cambodian Children by supporting them with basic needs such as foods, clothing, school supplies, health services, education, accommodation etc.

To see their organization and works, please visit their website here:
Life and Hope
Wat Damnak/LHA

LHA is run by the Venerable Hoeurn Somnieng. Somnieng (pronounced "som-nyang") is a 31 year old senior Buddhist monk who has become something of a celebrity. You can see him and the work of LHA on YouTube.com

If you are visiting Angkor Wat, and staying in Siem Reap, why not visit our monk, Somnieng, and have him show you what they do for the vulnerable and poor. LHA is located in Wat Damnak in Salakomreuk Commune, Siem Reap/Angkor. Practically, this means they are just the other side of the river from old town (the tourist centre) of Siem Reap. In fact, Somnieng is probably only a 15 minute walk away from your hotel. You can call Somnieng at Tel: (855)92 929 962, or email him at somnieng2002@yahoo.com

All of the money you give goes to the works of the charity. We at VSC have seen with our own eyes that the money is spent directly on the works and food, and not on the charity itself.

A tonne of rice, grown and bought locally in Siem Reap, costs about $250. This is distributed by the monks to needy families and vulnerable children. Without the provision of the basic food, many would starve, and none would go to school.

LHA divided food support groups into two kinds:
1: Very poor children and disabled people, which costs $5 per month per person, and provides 17kg of rice, 2 bottles of soy sauce and 2 tins of canned fish.
2: Special very poor children who could not go to school at all without LHA support, which costs $18 per month. This includes 35–50kg of rice, 10 bottles of soy sauce, 10 tins of canned fish, 1kg of oil, 1kg of salt, and other items.

Maybe giving food or rice isn't your style of giving. Perhaps you think charity would be better directed to education or housing. LHA has a number of projects to suit every taste in giving.

$1000 buys a wooden-house, 4.5m x 5.30m, for unfortunate families. The family and the monks build the house in 2-3 days.

Send a child or adult to school. Education is the road out of poverty.
Childhood Education:
$40 a year (primary school children)
$75 a year (grade 7 – 9)
Adult Education:
$125 a year (grade 9 – 12)
$425 a year (University)

Having the tools to go to school is important, and this cost $9 per year per child. It includes a school uniform, school bag, school-books, two pens, pencil, erasers, sharpener, pencil-case, drawing paper, colour pencils, ruler, and other items.

Sewing is an extremely important aspect of the Cambodian economy, both formal and informal. Learning to sew can mean a person can secure a regular job, and will have a skill other than rice farming. LHA runs a training centre, and can always use sponsors, or even the money for a new sewing machine.

We at VSC urge you to give generously to LHA. They are really working hard to improve the lives of so many needy people who often live on less than $2. per day.

Ven. Hoeurn Somnieng, Executive Director
Life and Hope Association
Wat Damnak 0211 (Buddhist Temple)
Wat Damnak Village, Salakomreuk Commune
Siem Reap, Angkor Province, Cambodia


04 December 2009

KENYA CLOSED 16 Dec 2009 - 6 Jan 2010

The Kenyan High Commission in Ottawa will be closed for almost three weeks starting on Wednesday 16 December 2009. The visa office will re-open on Thursday 07 January 2010 for all your visa needs.

The Kenyans advise travellers to acquire their visas at the Nairobi International Airport upon arrival. This is safe as the temporary closure of the high commission is known at the airport.

13 October 2009

New fee for Viet Nam

Basic tourist and business visas for Viet Nam just got a little more expensive.

As of today the Embassy of Viet Nam in Canada is charging $93 for a simple visa, good for a single entry.

The prices for other visas remain the same as before.

Click here for visas to Viet Nam.

25 September 2009

World Tourism Day

Happy World Tourism Day from myself and all the staff at Visa Services Canada.

The theme this year is Celebrating Diversity, and the 2009 hosts are various countries in Africa. The actual day is Sunday 27 September.

Click here for the World Tourism Organization, a UN body headquartered in Spain.


21 September 2009

Russian visas for UK & USA citizens

Citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain now have to apply for Russian visas using the "long form" application. As of today, 21 September 2009, the Russian embassy in Canada will only accept applications from UK citizens which are made on the same form as is already required of citizens of the Untied States of America.

Click here for Russian visa details and basic form.

Click here to contact us for the special "Long Form" for U.K. and U.S.A. citizens.

09 September 2009

Brazil LOWERS visa fees

Yes, you read that correctly: Brazil is lowering visa fees. As of Monday 14 September 2009 Brazil is charging less for all sorts of visas.

Canadian tourists to Brazil pay $34 less than before, with the new tourist visa costing only $119.

Canadian busibess visitors pay $42 less, with the Business T2 visa costing only $112.

Even US citizens living in Canada get a price break. They formerly paid a whopping $270 for a visa, but now pay only $210: a saving of $60.

We suspect the reason is the strong Canadian dollar, and a growing thirst for tourist and business visitors.

10 August 2009

Child Abductions

This is the season for child abductions. Summer, with the holidays and trips abroad, is the prime time for children to be abducted, usually by the non-custodial parent. Winter holidays are also a significant time for abductions.

In order to travel abroad, all Canadians, including newborns and children, require a passport. Click here for Passport Canada.

If you are concerned that a non-custodial parent might try to get a passport for your child, you can take preventative action. If you fear the abduction of your child, you may notify any passport office in Canada (or the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate if you are abroad) to have your child’s name placed on the Passport Control List, a list that puts officials on alert. Before your child’s name is included on this list, you will be asked to provide the names and birth dates of both parents and the child, as well as copies of any custody-related documents. Any attempt by another person to get a passport for that child will trigger an alarm, and the custodial parent will be notified. No passport will be issued in these circumstances.

However, many children are abducted, and there are only limited ways and means of securing their return to Canada.

Canada is a party to the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This is a multilateral treaty which seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing a procedure to bring about their prompt return. Click here for the Hague Convention.

The objects of the Convention are to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any Contracting State; and to ensure that rights of custody and of access under the law of one Contracting State are effectively respected in the other Contracting States.

The problem is that while most of the state members of the convention are western developed countries with stable governments and common or civil law systems, the difficult countries of common destination for abducted children tend to be less-developed countries, often under the rule of Islamic or Sharia legal systems. This means there is usually no recognition of maternal parental rights of custody or control. Since the majority of mixed marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims involves a Muslim father and non-Muslim mother, abductions to Muslim countries either go unanswered, or are decided in the Islamic courts in favour of the father who lost custody in a Western country. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are notoriously difficult countries from which to recover an abducted child.

As part of an effort to remedy this situation, Canada has signed to family consular agreements with western-oriented nations: Egypt and Lebanon. Neither is a member of the Hague Convention, but both work with Canada on child abudction cases.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada has developed a public information booklet called "International Child Abductions: A Manual for Parents" that can be seen on the Internet. This booklet comprises all relevant information on how to prevent and to handle abductions in Canada. It also refers to useful websites on the matter, including those of some of the provinces and territories.

If your child has been abducted to or is being retained in a country other than Canada and you are aware of the location, you should contact the office of your provincial or territorial Attorney General and/or Minister of Justice. These departments have special sections designated as the central authority for your province or territory, which are responsible for the administration of the Hague Convention. Your central authority will provide you with a copy of the Convention-approved application form and other information about issues under the Convention.

Child Passports

All Canadians need a passport to travel abroad, even if they are newborns or small children.

Under Canadian passport rules, either parent or guardian can legally apply for the child's passport. This means a non-custodial parent could possibly acquire a passport for a child, then take them out of Canada without the knowledge or permission of the custodial parent.

Passport Canada states "both parents are requested to participate in obtaining passport services for their child and to sign the application form. The other parent may be contacted. To avoid possible delays, we strongly recommend that you provide a long-form birth certificate showing information on both parents. Where a legal guardian is the applicant, the other legal guardian as the case may be is also requested to participate."

"Where a court order or agreement exists referring to custody of the child, only the person with custodial rights may apply. All documents that refer to custody or mobility of, or access to, the child must be provided. If a divorce has been granted, a copy of the divorce judgement or order must also be provided. Where joint custody provisions exist, either parent may apply."

Click here for a passport application for children.

06 August 2009

Thai tourist visa fee waiver

Canadian tourists are allowed to travel to Thailand without a visa provided their stay is for less than 30 days. Any stay over thirty days requires a visa.

If you intend to stay for more than 30 days, you need a visa. The Thai Embassy in Ottawa normally charges $35 for this visa, but had waived the fee in an attempt to attract long-term tourists during the economic downturn.

The programme has recently been extended until March 2010, meaning that the visa is still free, and will be so for another seven months. You still need the visa, but the visa cost is now officially "gratis" (free).

Click here for Thai visa details.
Click here for Thai visa forms.

05 August 2009

Zambia - now with multiple entry

Good news for those of you going on safari to southern and eastern Africa: Zambia now offers double and multiple entry tourist visas.

The price for a single entry visa remains US$50., while the new double and multiple entry visas for tourist and business travel area only US$80. Forms and requirements remain the same.

This change makes it easier to people to do multi-country safaris, and to follow the large animal herds during the annual great migration. This also makes a visit to Victoria Falls better by allowing re-entry to Zambia after crossing into Zimbabwe. The town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, also supports tourist visits to the falls, and is a short hop (13 km) across the Zambezi River border from Livingstone, Zambia. For those liking train travel, the Zambian railway runs to Livingstone beside the falls. There are four trains per week from Lusaka, the capital city, to Livingstone. Trains take 15-18 hours to do the journey, and tickets cost about $8 each. Most tourists fly or take busses.

Click here for an on-screen fillable Zambian visa application and instructions.

01 June 2009

PASSPORTS for the border - TODAY

You now need a passort to get into the U.S.A. no matter your citizenship.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires Canadian and U.S. travelers to present a passport or other document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. It is a result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA).

The goal of WHTI is to facilitate entry for Canadian and U.S. citizens and other legitimate foreign visitors, while strengthening U.S. border security. Standard documents will enable the Department of Homeland Security to quickly and reliably identify a traveler.

WHTI went into effect today, Monday 01 June 2009 for land and sea travel into the U.S. WHTI went into effect for air travelers on 23 January 2007.

The common document is now the PASSPORT.

Click here to get a new Canadian passport.

28 May 2009

Taking the children ?

Are you taking children across an international border?

Does the child have their own current valid passport?

Does your child have the same last name as both parents?

Child trafficking conventions and strict laws against the unauthorized movement of children could be a problem for your travel plans. Such rules were put in place to help stop the theft of children by strangers, traffickers, relatives, and lone parents abducting their own child.

More and more children in Canada have the same last name as only one parent, or even a different name altogether in the case of children living with a guardian.

It is always important that when a child has a different name, and I mean different in any way at all from either of the parents, that the parents carry along the provincial government-issued LONG FORM BIRTH CERTIFICATE. This long form birth certificate lists the names of both parents in full, and is a most valuable document for proving the real relationship of the adults to the child.

Some embassies require a copy of this document before issuing a visa to a child. Other countries will issue a visa, but will demand proof at the border.

In some cases you should strongly consider have a lawyer sign and notarize a letter stating the names and relationships of the adults (parents or guardian) to the child, and to have this with you while crossing a border.

Be prepared with documents, not turned away from the border.

07 May 2009

U.S. border closed if no passport

As of 01 June 2009 the United States border is closed to all persons not carrying a valid passport.

The U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) final rule requires travelers to present a passport or other approved secure document denoting citizenship and identity for all land and sea travel into the United States. WHTI establishes document requirements for travelers entering the United States who were previously exempt, including citizens of the U.S.A., Canada and Bermuda. These document requirements will be effective Monday 01 June 2009.

Many cross-border travelers already have WHTI-compliant documents such as a Passport or a Trusted Traveler Card (NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST), or a Washington State Enhanced Driver's License (EDL). The U.S. Department of State is accepting applications for the new Passport Cards and additional U.S. states and Canadian provinces will be issuing EDLs in the next several months — all of which are options specifically designed for land and sea border use in place of a passport.

Cruise passengers should be warned that many cruise lines will not accept non-passport WHTI-compliant cards as sufficient, and therefore may deny bording to passengers. The rules allow for other special documents to be used, but will likely be boiled down to "no passport, no cruise". The best route is to have a current passport issued by the Government of Canada passport office. Click here for the passport office website including all forms and requirements and office addresses.

School groups can be treated differently. Beginning in June, U.S border stations will institute special provisions that allow school or other organized groups of children ages 18 and under who are U.S. or Canadian citizens to enter the U.S. with proof of citizenship alone. Teachers and group organizers should check with the appropriate U.S. border post and immigration office before making any attempt to cross into or out of the USA.

05 May 2009

Are you banned ?

Have you recently been in Mexico?
If so, you may be banned from getting a visa and entering some countries.
Right now China is denying visas to Canadians who have recently been in Mexico.
If you have a Mexican border stamp in your passport, whether from an airport or cruise port or land crossing, you may not be able to enter some Asian countries.
So before you send off you visa application, check with us for the current status, and make your journey great from start to finish.
Click here for Visa Services Canada.

01 May 2009

Swine Flu (Novel Influenza)

The following letter was written for distribution by Canadian high commissioners and ambassadors.

Dear fellow Canadians

I am writing to provide an update on the human swine influenza and links to websites where you will be able to monitor the situation closely. Further communications will be provided as the situation warrants.

Human cases of swine influenza (H1N1) have been reported in various regions of the world. Deaths have been reported as well. Mexico is currently experiencing an extended influenza season, and cases normally involve healthy young adults. On 29 April 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to 5, which indicates that the virus has caused sustained community level outbreaks in two or more countries in one WHO region. The WHO maintains a complete list of countries (available at www.who.int) that includes the most recent outbreaks and crisis.

In Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is the lead Federal authority on human swine influenza and pandemic influenza in humans. PHAC has an influenza website portal (www.influenza.gc.ca) to provide information on various types of influenza.

The PHAC recommends that travellers follow the same precautionary measures as with seasonal influenza. These include receiving a seasonal flu vaccine, washing your hands often, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when ill. Canadians travellers who develop symptoms of influenza or severe respiratory illness, especially high fever, are advised to seek medical attention immediately. The PHAC also provides general information on human swine influenza on its main website at www.phac-aspc.gc.ca or at www.fightflu.ca .

Government of Canada offices overseas are not in a position to provide medicine or medical treatment to Canadian citizens. Canadians are encouraged to evaluate their own personal circumstances and medical histories to determine whether their continued presence in the country is warranted. While the WHO has not declared that a global pandemic is underway, Canadians should be aware that the interruption of commercial aviation and imposition of border control measures to and from any country may occur in the event of a pandemic. Under these conditions, departure may not be possible and the ability of the Government of Canada to assist would be severely restricted. Canadians should always ensure their passports are current. It is also possible that in accordance with measures announced by local authorities, the Embassy of Canada might have to reduce its services to emergencies only until further notice. Should the services levels be affected, we would immediately communicate with you again.

I hope that the information provided will be useful to you and your family. Further information on Human Swine Influenza can be found at http://www.voyage.gc.ca or at Global issues.

15 April 2009

The Border by Car

Last weekend we drove from Ottawa to Boston for a short city break. It is less than 700km, but took an hour longer than planned due to a massive line at the U.S. immigration check-point.
Car after car sat for minute after minute at the check-point, while the agonizing inspection dragged on and on. We watched this slow motion inaction with the engine usually off.
An hour later, we finally pulled up to the inspection point, and within 15 seconds were waived through.
What was our secret?
Take you passport when you are crossing the U.S. border by car.
Current U.S. law requires a passport to enter the U.S.A. by air or boat. Right now it is still legal to try and cross with government-issued identification such as a driving license, plus proof of citizenship. This means a birth certificate and your DL are enough, but only for the next month. The new requirement for a passport to enter by car or bus or foot comes into effect on 1 June 2009.
Also, if you are traveling with children, you must have proof they are legally yours or that you have authorization to take them across an international frontier. This is to protect children against kidnapping, which is often done by family members.
It is a great idea to travel with your passport now. As we drove up to the check-point, we handed over our passports already open to the data page. The agent asked where we lived and where we were going. Fifteen seconds later we were in the United States. It is important to know exactly where you are going. Agents usually ask this question, and it is advisable to know the name and address of your hotel, or at least of the mall if only for a day-shopping trip.
So please, as a courtesy to yourself and to others waiting in the line-up from hell, please please please take along your passport. It will be mandatory come June anyway.

07 April 2009

Tibet opened for visitors

Several months ago China closed off Tibet to foreign visitors, all but sealing the kingdom. Last week Beijing announced it intended to re-open the internal border with Tibet to foreigners on Sunday 05 April 2009. The original closure came as a result of Chinese fears of demonstrations and activities on the 50th anniversary of the exile of the Dalai Lama. With the event over, and little to show for it, Beijing deemed it safe to let people see Tibet.
The Chinese Embassy in Canada still cannot issue a visa valid for Tibet, but once you are in China you can now get a ticket and visa to Tibet. But you still need that Chinese visa first.
Click here for a Chinese visa.

31 March 2009

Russian Visa Service Level Changes

Russia is about to change visa processing times and prices for the second time this year. The Russian consular officials told me the embassy is about to replace the current levels of service and prices with only two prices and two service levels. There will continue to be regular service for $75, but it will take up to three weeks to issue a visa. There will be fast service, but it will take up to three days. Same day and next day service will no longer be available. So get your requests in early for any Russian travel.

18 March 2009

Long live the Queen

Cunard has just announced details of their new build, the upcoming "Queen Elizabeth". To enter service on 12 October 2010, the QE New inaugural season will feature six very different inaugural cruises. Although hardened for the North Atlantic, the new ship is not a replacement of the QE2 in that it is not a true ocean liner. That role has already been taken by the Queen Mary 2. Instead, the QE New will be a cruise ship, and will undertake cruise itineraries from Southampton and the Caribbean, and potentially world cruises.
* The first voyage will be to the same destination as the QE2 inaugural in 1969: the Canary Islands. This is a 13 day cruise from Southampton on 12 October 2010 will call at Vigo (for Santiago de Compostela), Lisbon, Seville (Cadiz), Gran Canaria (Las Palmas), Tenerife (Santa Cruz de Tenerife), La Palma (Santa Cruz de La Palma) and Madeira (Funchal).
* Mediterranean Premiere - a 14 day cruise to Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Rome (Civitavecchia), Naples, Cartagena and Gibraltar, on 25 October 2010.
* Aegean Introduction - an 18 day cruise to Venice, the Yugoslavian coast, Greece, Turkey and Malta, on 8 November 2010.
* Gallic Debut - a 5 day voyage to Holland, Belgium and France on 26 November 2010.
* Iberian Discovery - 13 day cruise to Spain and Portugal, the Canaries and Madiera on 1 December 2010.
* Festive Debut - a 22 day voyage across the mid-Atlantic to the Caribbean on 14 December 2010.
The QE New will feature 71% of the cabins having balconies, and 85% having at least a window. There is a large demand for upper-end cabins, and Cunard continues the tradition of devoting a substantial portion of the ship (12%) to Grill class cabins. The six top suites will be named after knighted former Cunard commodores. Grill passengers will dine in the two private dining rooms around the funnel on top of the ship.
The QE New is already under construction at Fincantieri's Monfalcone Yards in Italy. It will be 294m long and 32.3m wide: being about the same dimension as the QE2, and able to transit the current Panama Canal. However, it will be substantially larger inside at 90400 tons (a space, not weight, measurement). There are 12 public decks, with accomodation for 2092 passengers. This gives the ship a respectable passenger space ratio of 45, or one of the higher in the industry.

10 March 2009

Slow Brazilians

With the good news from Russia recently, we had been hoping for more great things from some of the slower visa countries. But our hopes were dashed when Brazil recently announced they were lengthening the application process at their embassy in Ottawa.
In the past the Brazilian embassy would process a visa application in eight (8) working days. A few weeks ago that became ten (10) working days, or two full weeks.
Times at the consulates remain high, and can run to over three working weeks for residents of Western Canada. Prices remain 50% higher than last year.
Click here for Brazilian visa details and forms.

19 February 2009

Fast Russians

Horray! Horray! Good news and glad tidings! The Russian Govenment has relented and is once again offering fast visa service for Canadian passports. They announced today that Canadian citizens would be able to get the same fast service as any other national as of tomorrow, Friday 20 February 2009.
In June 2008 the Russian Government retaliated against Canada for slow visa issuance out of our embassy in Moscow with new rules which penalized Canadian passport holders seeking Russian visas. Overnight it became a 15 working day wait for a visa, with no appeal and no opportunity to pay extra for faster service.
The official stratement of the Russian Embassy in Canada this morning is as follows:
"Consular offices of the Russian Federation desirous to meet the wishes of representatives of Canadian businesses and society interested in promoting bilateral relations will abandon the implemented on base of reciprocity fixed period of 15 business days for processing of the visa applications of Canadian citizens set earlier. From this date on Canadian citizens will have opportunity to get Russian visas under [earlier] conditions. It means that respecting all Russian regulations with regard of visa application documents visas can be obtained on expedited basis with extra fees for rush processing applicable."
So we are back to the old system of fees and are glad to announce our Canadian customers can once again enjoy fast visa service despite the bumblings of the government in Ottawa.

27 January 2009

Visa fraud against immigrants

The saddest part of my job is dealing with people, generally from the third world, and usually from conflict zones, who are seeking to immigrate to Canada to live or to work. It is sad not because they are seeking a new and better life, but because so many fall prey to unscrupulous fake immigration advisors and consultants. These shady businesses often promise visas and work in exchange for substantial payments to "government" offices. Just this past weekend I helped a man in Iraq who had fallen prey not to one scam, but to several at once. His letter to me asked for help, as he was now starting to realize he was not being dealt with fairly, and was probably defruaded. His letter outlined in some detail the names and often fake addresses of various persons and fake government offices. He believed he had been offered a job in a big name chain hotel in Canada at US$4000. per month plus room and board and flight. This is a common scam. He was even told to send more documents to Nav Canada, and to transfer money to the Canadian government in Cape Verde (Africa). Another awful scam is to set up email address including ".gc". Since only the Canadian government can use a .gc designation after the @ symbol, immigration scammers are putting the .gc text before the @ symbol to make unsuspecting people think the scammer works for the government of Canada. Below I have reproduced the letter I sent to him. I have removed some names, and deleted some of the reference footnotes and web addresses. However, you will get the idea. Let it be a sobering lesson.

Dear (name withheld):
* There is no such thing as an official agent representing Immigration Canada who can be hired by a visa seeker. There is no need for you to pay a representative to assist with the Canadian visa process. If you choose to hire a visa consultant, your application will not be given special attention by the government, and it will not be processed faster, and a visa is not guaranteed. Beware of representatives who claim that you will get a visa, obtain citizenship or benefit from special treatment from the Canadian government by using their services.
* According to the government of Canada: "You do not need to hire an immigration representative. It is up to you. The Government of Canada treats everyone equally, whether they use the services of a representative or not. If you choose to hire a representative, your application will not be given special attention by the immigration officer. Your representative also cannot guarantee that your application will be approved. All the forms and information that you need to apply for a visa are available for free on this website. If you follow the instructions in the application guide, you can complete the application forms and submit them on your own."
* If you want to immigrate to Canada, then you can apply directly to the Canadian Government at the Canadian Embassy in Jordan (for Iraq) (see address below).
* The so-called "Canadian Immigration Bureau" is NOT a government office. It is a private company. It cannot actually get a visa for you. It can only give advice. It does not issue visas for Canada.
* The website Fraudwatchers has posted a notice about fake hotel job schemes.
* Hotels in Canada are not telling people to get tourist visas to come as workers. This is a scam to get money from you.
* NAV CANADA is a government agency responsible for airplane navigation and air traffic control. It is not now, and has never been, responsible for visas or any immigration issues. The Canadian government does NOT receive visa applications through Nav Canada. Do not send anything to a Nav Canada address. Nav Canada is currently warning people about a fraud scheme which uses the Nav Canada name.
* No one has to pay for a Canadian visa through Cape Verde. This is nothing but a scam. The Canadian government does not take money in Cape Verde. Canada does not even have an embassy in Cape Verde. So you have probably lost your US$500. Payments are to be made only as follows: "paid to the order of The Receiver General for Canada".
* Here are the real prices charged by the Canadian government in Jordan for visa services:
Temporary Resident Visa - Single Entry $75.00
Temporary Resident Visa - Multiple Entries $150.00
Work Permit $150.00
Permanent Resident Travel Document $50.00
* The lawyer you contacted is a registered member of the Quebec Bar. This means he is legally entitled to practice law in Quebec, and is therefore a legitimate lawyer. (Name withheld) does not work for the Canadian government. He is a private immigration lawyer. The job of such lawyers, legal in Canada, is to help people fill in visa application forms with the correct information for a fee. With your written permission, they can also be your representative acting on your behalf to the Canadian government. (Law firm name) is a legitimate business. It is not the government. The law firm is a visa adviser. Its website states the company provides representation and advice to foreign nationals who are looking to obtain a Canada visa and enter Canada on a permanent or temporary basis.
* The address you have for Mr. (name withheld) in North York is not a government office. As it is not a government office, it does not issue visas. Only the Canadian embassy in Jordan can issue a visa to an Iraqi or Jordanian.
* The Government of Canada will not deal with non-authorized representatives who charge a fee for their service.
* The Canadian embassy in Jordan, as well as Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CIC) (the official Canadian government agency responsible for immigration), are warning people about immigration fraud. This is fraud by persons and companies who seem to promise a quick or easy way to Canada.
* According to the Canadian government there are controls and limitations on immigration representatives. You can complain against such people or companies here if you feel you were not told the truth.
* There is only one real way for someone in Iraq and Jordan to apply for a visa. The link below is for the Canadian embassy immigration section in Jordan.
* If you really want to know if you have a visa, which you probably do not, then contact the Canadian embassy in Jordan. This is the ONLY office which can issue a visa to people in Iraq and Jordan. Below is the real government contact information. Write or telephone or fax or email asking about your case. You have a reference number (reference removed), but I doubt it is real.
* If you actually have a visa appointment at the Canadian embassy in Jordan, then you may really have an application being processed. Please contact the embassy at the address in Jordan to confirm your appointment with a consular officer of the government of Canada.
* We wish you well on your journey.

23 January 2009

Where in the world are you going?

One of the best travel tools available today is satellite imagery. Years ago satellite photos of the earth costs hundreds of dollars per image, and were usually of low resolution, so you paid a lot for a photograph in which nothing smaller than a house was visible.
Those days are gone, and thanks to various satellite image providers, you can see any place you want to travel, and do so for free.
One of the best services is provided by google. Their website googlemaps.com gives you access to thousands of images of every spot of land on earth.
This is a great trip planning tool, and a wonderful way to do research about your upcoming trip.
By using googlemaps you can actually see your airport or hotel or tourist destination from space, and often with a resolution so high you can make out animals in the zoo!
I frequently use googlemaps to help my customers discover more efficient ways and means of travel. It has also helped me locate border crossings and small island resorts.
Cruise passengers always find this useful, as they can see their cruise terminal in relation to the city. By looking at the photos, you may discover your ship docks beside something important, and you can walk rather than pay money to be driven across the street!
Try it out by looking for your house, or look for the Great Pyramids at Giza beside Cairo, or the Sydney Opera House, or Red Square in Moscow.
Googe Maps