31 December 2010

Remember those less fortunate

We at Visa Services Canada get a lot of emails from people in the third world who are truly desperate to escape grinding poverty, war and oppression.

As you know, we do not acquire Canadian visas for foreigners to come to Canada. VSC helps Canadians and others go abroad. Many companies dealing in Canadian visas are very unscrupulous, and we will have nothing to do with this type of operator.

Here is a sample email which we received this morning from Kashmir:

"we are living in earthquake place Azad Jam mu Kashmir Bagh. Kashmir is not Independence country. one park by capture Pakistan and second part capture, India government, and my family wanted there which iz peaceful country. Canadian people's and government are very good manners. Canadian living standards are best. there education and living standard are best. this time i and my family live in difficult crises, problems. u know earthquake came in two hundred five but our government and Pakistan government have not supported to the people. this time more people are living in tent at village. we want two government of Canadian sport to us for visa. i and my family wanted to went Canada and also wanted to do work in Canada. i am very thank 2 Canada government and people's of Canada."

Whether or not the email is legitimate, there is no doubt that millions of people around the world are barely surviving, and doing so in terrible circumstances.

So when you travel, remember there are about three billion people who could never do so, and they need your help.

Happy new year 2011.

22 December 2010

U.A.E. visas in Canada

The Embassy of the UAE in Ottawa announced on 21 December 2010 that they will issue visas to Canadian regular passport holders. Canadian citizens on tourist and business journeys should have their visas arranged by the airline or hotel or travel company inside the UAE. The visa can then be received at the airport upon arrival in the UAE. It must be arranged beforehand by an office in the UAE.

But some of you will want to apply for a visa at the embassy, so here it is.

The UAE Embassy also announced the jaw-dropping prices: a short-stay visa, valid for only 30 days, costs $250. and a long-tern stay valid for up to 90 days costs $500. The big multi-entry visa valid for six months costs a whopping $1000. !

Applications to the embassy are accepted only by Canada Post mail (Priority Courier or Xpresspost or registered).

The embassy stresses that Canadians should pre-arrange visas through either of the two national airlines, or through a hotel or agent in the UAE. They are still not saying anything about cruise ships, and cruise companies are confused about the changing rules.

Click here for the form and instructions.

16 December 2010

Kenya closed for 2010

For those of you wishing to get a last minute visa for Kenya in order to see the great migration - forget it. Kenya is no longer taking visa applications this year.

Yesterday, 15 December, was the last day the Kenyan High Commission would accept visa applications until they re-open on 5 January 2011.

Until then, Canadians are allowed to acquire a visa-on-arrival in Nairobi, Kenya.

UAE visas from Emirates Airlines

Canadians flying on Emirates Airline can apply for paperless electronic tourist, visit and transit visas on-line through Emirates Airlines.

You must have an Emirates Airlines booking reference number; a digital image of your passport; and a digital passport photograph in order to apply.

Click here for the on-line visa application from Emirates Airlines.

14 December 2010

U.A.E. visas for cruise ships

The UAE Embassy in Ottawa informed me today by email that Canadians on cruise ships need their visas sponsored by a travel agent from inside the UAE.

Canadian sailing on international cruis ships through the UAE need to have a visa pre-arranged by their cruise ship company port agent in the UAE. Please call your agent or your cruise line visa & documentation office to ensure they have arranged visa support for you, and that this visa support is linked to your passport number.

U.A.E. visa news - here at last!


1. The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Ottawa will issue visas for official visitors only.

2. Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways, travel agencies and hotels in the UAE are able to issue the following visas to Canadian citizens:
•Visit visas
•Tourist visas
•Transit visas (Issued by the above mentioned airlines)

Translation: The Embassy of the UAE in Ottawa cannot and will not issue visas to Canadians on regular passports. These visas have to be arranged before entry by either an airline or hotel or travel agent in the UAE. The visa should then be available for pick-up at the airport in the UAE.

Click here to read the official annoucement of the UAE Embassy.

10 December 2010

UAE - no news

There is still NO NEWS on the visas for the UAE.

With a mere three weeks to go until the visa deadline (02 January 2011), we were hoping for full details of the requirements and prices: but so far, nothing.

We suspect the UAE may impose a visa-on-arrival scheme for Canadians, as there is probably too little time to get a visa printer and hire and train staff and issue the hundreds of required visas in the next few weeks.

Kenya closing early

The Kenyan High Commission is closing early for their Christmas and New Year holidays.

Kenya will accept the last visa application of 2010 on Wednesday 15 December 2010. If you do not apply by that day, you cannot apply until Tuesday 4 January 2011: three weeks later. Processing takes 6-7 working days.

Click here for Kenya visa application forms.

09 December 2010

Visiting the UK High Commission

This morning I had the great honour and pleasure of having breakfast in the High Commission of the United Kingdom here in Ottawa. We were hosted by Sir Anthony Cary, the outgoing high commissioner. After breakfast he took us to see the UK's visa processing centre overlooking central Ottawa. There a large staff process nearly 20 000 visas per year. Summer is their busiest time, with lots of students applying for visas in order to attend UK universities. During the rest of the year their visa officers are usually reviewing applications from non-Canadians who need a visa to travel on the passport of their home country. UK visa rules will be changing in the new year, as will prices.

Canadians do not need a visa to visit the UK as tourists or on business.

Visa Services Canada does not do visas to the United Kingdom. This is due to the fact that the UK visa application process is totally automated and electronic. There is no paper form. Clients pay electronically, and apply electronically. Then clients make an appointment through the UK website for a visit to a UK biometrics office near them. This is all done on-line.

Click here for UK visa details and electronic application forms and electronic payment, as well as information on biometric scanning.

Angola's long holidays

The Angolan Embassy told us today that their annual long Christmas holidays would probably start on or even before 22 December 2010, and they would re-open after 3 January 2011. This is a two week holiday, so apply right now or be prepared to wait until the new year. Nothing will happen fast.

Click here for Angolan visa forms and details.

08 December 2010

More Cambodia charity donations

Another charity-minded person has donated to the Cambodian non-governmental organization "Life and Hope Association" through our offices.

Mr. RW donated $250 to buy one tonne of rice for orphans and vulnerable children in Cambodia today. His donation was sent straight on to Somnieng, the head of LHA in Siem Reap who will be able to buy the rice directly from the rice mill in town.

Click here and look at the last page to see how you too can help.

India requires your utility bill

In another strange twist of the visa world, the Indian consular office responsible for people who live in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, YT, and NWT demand that people lviing in this region provide a copy of their utility bill showing they live in one of the named provinces or territories. Since not everyone is named on the utility bill, we suspect a copy of the provincial drivers license will be sufficient.

Even more confusing is that this rule, to show proof of residency in the above places, only applies if your Canadian passport was issued outside of BC, AB, SK, YT or NWT.

Click here for an Indian visa form and details.

Jordan raising prices

The Royal Jordanian Government, which has kept visa prices very low for years, has announced a dramatic 100% price increase effective 01 January 2011.

Visas will go from the current $22 each to the new $44. each for single entry and are valid for only one month. Double entry visas will be $62. Multiple entry visas will be $122.

Click here for Jordan visa forms and details.

No news from the UAE on visas

There is no news on the visas for the UAE.

With only three weeks to go until the visa deadline, we were hoping for full details of the requirements and prices: but so far, nothing.

We suspect the UAE may impose a visa-on-arrival scheme for Canadians, as there is probably too little time to get a visa printer and hire and train staff and issue the hundreds of required visas in the next few weeks.

Ethiopia is moving ?

Yes, you read that correctly. Ethiopia has made the bizarre decision to move their embassy out of the capital city. Strangely the embassy will be moved away from Ottawa where it is in direct contact with the Canadian government and development agencies and the diplomatic community, over to a small office in Toronto so that it can be closer to the Ethiopian ex-pat community. The move will make it more difficult to acquire visas due to the upheaval and lack of trained staff.

Click here for an Ethiopian visa form.

03 December 2010

Holiday Closing Dates

Visa Services Canada will be closed from Friday 24 December through Tuesday 28 December 2010 inclusive. There is no courier delivery in or out on 25-28 December.

Libya - Translations Over?

The unofficial word is that the Libyan Government, and the Embassy of Libya in Ottawa, will no longer require an official translation of Canadian passports in an official stamp from Passport Canada.

Imposed several years ago after an unfortunate incident at a customs post, the requirement from Libya was that all Canadian passports had to have a stamp from Passport Canada, and the passport had to be translated into Arabic. Only then would a visa be issued.

I have been informally notified by the embassy that they are no longer looking for the translation page.

Non-Canadians may still have to get translations.

Click here for Libyan visa form.

Brazil - Slow in Vancouver

Anyone living in BC, Alberta or Saskatchewan who wants to travel to Brazil for any purpose needs to be prepraed to live without their passport for at least a month.

The Brazilian consular office responsible for that region of Canada has a firm policy of using 15 working days (three working weeks) to process a tourist or business or conference visa. Business travelers used to get the work done in 12 days, but not any longer. This is all the more annoying for people in Western Canada as those in the rest of Canada can generally get visas in 4-10 working days.

Click here for Brazilian visas.

Kenya - new prices for 2011

Kenya has announced that it will increase visa prices back up to the original prices. Right now a basic visa to Kenya has been costing $32. This was a sale price. Kenya lowered the prices in order to attract more tourists, and the visa sale lasted for more than a year. As of 01 January 2011 the price will be $64 for a regular single-entry tourist visa.

Click here for Kenya visa forms.

UAE Update

There is no news on the visas for the UAE. Today is the national day of the UAE, so everything is closed.

With only four weeks to go until the visa deadline, we were hoping for full details of the requirements and prices: but so far, nothing.

We are starting to think the UAE may impose a visa-on-arrival scheme for Canadians, as there is probably too little time to get a visa printer and hire and train staff and issue the hundreds of required visas in the next few weeks.

01 December 2010

No news on UAE visas

There is no only one month to go until the United Arab Emirates (UAE) begins requiring all Canadians to have visas to enter the UAE.

The bad news is that the home ghovernment in Abu Dhabi has still not decided what to do, and no instructions have been given to the UAE Embassy in Ottawa. The embassy is still not allowed to issue visas, and there are no set requirements yet.

So with on month to go, there is still no news. And with the UAE national holiday starting later this week, there will be nothing until at least early next week.

New Russian regulations

As of December 2010, the Russian Embassy regulations require persons to apply in person if possible, or at least to apply directly to the Russian consular office directly by courier. This means no third party such as a visa service is allowed to submit your application to Russia, or receive your passport and visa from the Russians.

Visa Services Canada will still assist you in getting vouchers for travel, and can help with your visa application package. However, it will be submitted to the Russians by courier, and will be returned to you the applicant directly from the Russian consular office. Due to Russian regulations we will not be able to conduct a post-visa quality control check.

Should you wish us to handle the visa process for you, we will of course continue to provide this service for as long as possible.

Click here for Russian visa application forms.

Those wishing to apply to the Russians directly must to so through the consular offices of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Canada. Please check with the Russian office for the correct address for your application.

Embassy of the Russian Federation in Canada
52 Range Road
Ottawa, ON, K1N 8J5
Tel: (613) 236-7220
Fax: (613) 238-6158
Website: http://www.rusembassy.ca/
E-mail: ruscons@rogers.com

We hope to have regular Russian visa service back up in no time.

09 November 2010

Myanmar visa problems

Myanmar stopped issuing visas-on-arrival a few months back and reverted to issuing visas at the emabssy in Ottawa. A few weeks ago the emabssy was instructed to stop issuing visas pending the installation of a new computerized visa production machine. So no visas were being issued, and the date for the machine being operational kept being pushed back. Now visas are again being issued, but there is a tremendous backlog, and only people about the get on the aircraft in the very near future are being issued with visas.

Click here for Myanmar visa forms.

Remembrance Day

Visa Services Canada will be open on Remembrance Day 2010 in Ottawa, as Ontario has not declared this a holiday. We will have regular courier and postal service, and be open to assist visa seekers. Be warned however that many fo the embassies will be closed some or all of the day out of respect and due to most High Commissioners and Ambassadors being at the national ceremonies in Ottawa.

Visas for the U.A.E.

As of 02 January 2011 Canadians will need a visa to enter the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The UAE Embassy in Ottawa just made the announcement, and people are scrambling to get details. However, the emabssy says it still has no firm details.

Here are the four types of visas a Canadian will be able to acquire:

Tourist Visa
This special category of visit visa is available for individual tourists from Eastern and Western Europe who are not entitled to be issued with a visa on arrival, as well as visitors from Thailand, South Africa and China. The Tourist Visa, which must be sponsored by hotels and tour operators, entitles its holder to a 30-day stay and is non-renewable.

Entry Service Permit
An Entry Service Permit (14-day stay permit) is available to businessmen and tourists. The permit must be sponsored by a company or a hotel licensed to operate within the UAE. The visa is non-renewable and is valid for 14 days from the date of issue and the duration of stay is 14 days from date of entry, exclusive of arrival and departure days.

Transit Visa
Those flying to or from Europe or the United States, Asia or Africa and passing through UAE airports can obtain a special 96-hour Transit Visa. The visa must be sponsored by an airline operating in the UAE and the traveller must have a valid ticket for onward flight. There is no charge for this visa.

Multiple Entry Visa
This is an excellent option for business visitors who are frequent visitors to the UAE and who have a relationship with a reputable local company. The Multiple Entry Visa is valid for six months from date of issue; each visit should not exceed 30 days in total. The visitor must enter the UAE on a single entry Visit Visa and obtain the Multiple Entry Visa while in the country. A sponsor is required and the visa will be granted free of charge. The maximum duration of stay should not exceed six months per visit.

More Information regarding visas will be added soon.

Click here for U.A.E. visa forms.

27 September 2010

Chinese Holidays

Happy Chinese Revolution Day.

This year the Chinese embassy and consulates in Canada will be closed on Friday 01 October and Monday 04 October 2010 for celebration of the annual national holiday celebrating the 1949 revolution which brough Mao and the CPC to power and exiled the Koumintang to Formosa.

Click here for Chinese visas.

World Tourism Day


Since 1980, the United Nations World Tourism Organization has celebrated World Tourism Day on 27 September. This date was chosen as on that day in 1970, the Statutes of the UNWTO were adopted. The adoption of these Statutes is considered a milestone in global tourism. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide.

The theme this year is Tourism & Biodiversity, and the annual meeting is being hosted by China.

11 August 2010

Ramadam and slower service

We extend greatings to our Muslim customers on the occassion of Ramadan year 1431.

Please note that due to the fasting and other religeous requirements of the faith, many embassies will have shorter working hours. This means visas will be delayed during Ramadan which ends on about 16 September 2010.

Please budget extra processing time when applying for a visa at any Muslim or Arab country during the Ramadan period.

10 August 2010

Libya's fast service

The Libyan embassy has a new consular officer in charge of visas, and the fast service option is gone. All visas are now processed in regular time.

The good news is that regular processing has dropped from 11 working days down to a week or less.

Click here for the Libya visa application.


Yes, you can be blacklisted.

Consular offices can and do blacklist applicants, especially those who have been caught using the wrong type of visa for their actual purpose of travel. They also blacklist people who are rude. This means you cannot get a visa from that country anywhere int he world, sometimes for years to come.

We recently saw this at an unnamed African country which said it was blacklisting a returning worker for being exceptionally rude on the telephone and in writing.

So be nice, and you will probably get a visa.

Egypt and the Two Photographs

Egyptian visas are in high demand, and there are new requirements.

The Egyptian Embassy in Ottawa has recently acquired a visa printing machine to replace thier old rubber stamp. This has increaed processing time from same-day to five working days! Yes, computerization has increased the time required by 400%.

Egypt also requires TWO (2) colour passport photographs with each application.

Click here for the Egyptian visa application form.

Russian AIDS/HIV tests required

The new consular officials at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa are now firmly and strictly following the rules on AIDS/HIV tests.

All applicants staying for more than 90 days, and all applicants seeking a one year visa, are REQUIRED to provide their current AIDS/HIV test in order to secure a visa.

This does NOT apply to regular tourists and others on short-stay single entry visas.

Click here for the Russian visa application form.

Pakistan Visa Delays due to Flooding

The Pakistan High Commission in Ottawa advises that there is a singificant delay in issuing visas right now due to the national emergency (flooding) which is dislocating millions of people.

Please expect a four-to-six WEEK delay in issuing work visas. Regular visas are also experiencing delayed processing.

Click here for Pakistan visa application forms.

20 July 2010

Meeting Passport Canada

This past week our team leader met with senior officials from Passport Canada. What an eye opener that was.

We had proposed a meeting to discuss diplomatic and special or official service visas for government and military clients. The reason was due to our team having seen the poor attitude and abysmal service from the government clerks and drivers who are currently tasked with visiting the embassies and high commissions to get visas on behalf of the government. Direct witnessing and feedback from embassy workers shows that the Canadian government staff are not viewed as being professional or courteous. Another set of events which brought the special visa issue to our attention is that fact that civil servants from a wide range of departments and agencies, as well as military officials, have come to us for visas and visa advice.

The response by Passport Canada to this information was both shock and outright denial.

Passport Canada officials had no idea civil servants and military staff were looking for visa services outside of the government. This they quickly noted and vowed to investigate. One official immediately assigned blame to renegade managers in various departments. There was no consideration that perhaps poor service by Passport Canada could be driving away their in-house clients.

But the most bizarre response to the information was the outright denial that there were any such problems. One senior official demanded 'where is your data?', and followed by stating that they had 'never heard a complaint' about this before.

That must be the ultimate weasel excuse: I never heard that complaint before. Are you asking the right people? Are you looking in the right places? Are you listening when issues are exposed? Judging from the reception this information received by some senior officials, Passport Canada is not necessarily receptive to negative information. My team was told that such stories were only anecdotal, and that there was no numerical data to back up the assertion of a problem at the face-to-face level in the embassies.

In the real world of customer service in the private sector, it is said that for every complaint you hear, another fifteen customers said nothing but were unhappy and will probably never come back. In the world of Passport Canada, one senior official repeated no less than four times during the meeting that they had a 98% approval rating from Canadian passport-seeking clients. This was strange as the CEO of Passport Canada says the approval rating is only 96%. Well, when you have a total monopoly, you can afford to blow off the complaints of the other 2% even though they amount to 87 500 people, or 175 000 people at the CEO's 4%. These figures are based on the number of passports issued in the last year for which there is an annual report.

My team did learn that Passport Canada has an entire division of people tasked with providing diplomatic and service visa support to the government, and that this group has about 20 permanent staff and takes on extra staff during peak periods. Now this group has to process an estimated 2000 civilian special visas per year, or about 100 visas per person per year, or two visas per person per week. Since the military visas are done as a group for single countries, they would not even qualify as individual cases in the business world, but simply be done as a single group.

How can this even be possible? How can an organization do so few visas with so many staff? What are Canadians getting for their tax money and for their passport fees?

In the private sector this work is done by fewer than five people.

Why can my team do this job with a fifth of the staff, and without alienating the embassy workers, while the government seems to need a bloated and inefficient group?

Over the years Passport Canada has had a significant number of senior officials posted in to try to fix what has historically been a somewhat dysfunctional agency. This is not going to change any time soon. Making the situation worse is the unwillingness of some senior staff to listen to outside criticism and to accept offers of assistance.

Canadian taxpayers and the Canadian government and military deserve better.

14 July 2010


We have a new game for you: it is called "GUESS THE LOCATION".

Look at the photo below, then try to guess where it is. Simple.

After a week we will post the correct answer.

Challenge yourself and your friends.

Yes, it is in fact MILAU FRANCE. Thanks for playing.

13 July 2010

BRAZIL - New Prices

Brazil has once again announced new prices for visas.

The really great news is that the prices are actually lower than before. This was a bit of a surprise.

Tourist visas are now $106.25 each.

Business visas are now $100. each.

Click here for Brazil visa applications.

Russian service back to normal

Now that the G8 and G20 meeting disasters are over in Toronto, things are back to normal with the Russian Embassy.

This means processing times for rush service are back down to 24 hours.

So now is the time to go to Russia!

Click here for Russian visa forms.

Wow, what a great ship & trip

Last week we sailed on Cunard's QUEEN MARY 2 for a long weekend cruise from New York to Halifax and Boston. The service was even better than two years ago. Our butler, Julian, was the best we have ever experienced; the wheat-free food even better than before. Halifax was great, and the fourth of July fireworks all over Boston were amazing. Once again, Cunard has done it all.

Click here for Cunard and great ships.

18 June 2010

Holiday closures - July 2010

Dear Friends and Clients

In honour of our Canadian and US staff, Visa Services Canada will be closed during the Canada Day and the US national holiday long weekends, from Thursday 01 July through Tuesday 06 July 2010 inclusive. Normal operations will resume on Wednesday 07 July at 08:30 AM.

This means that any rush jobs MUST be in our office no later than Monday 28 June.

Happy Canada Day, and happy US Independance Day.

12 June 2010

Russian visas take longer in June

The Russian Embassy is temporarily closing their Toronto consulate due to the disruption caused by the bad planning of the Canadian government for the G8 and G20 meetings in late June.

All Toronto consular work will be done at the embassy in Ottawa. The Russian Embassy has therefore decreed that due to the extra work, fast service will be three (3) working days, and slow service will be at least ten (10) working days until July.

If you are rushing to Russia, apply soon.

Click here for Russian visa application forms.

08 June 2010

EGYPT now 3 days, plus more photos

The Egyptian Embassy in Ottawa has announced a big change in visa processing requirements. Effective immediately you now must have two (2) passport-style colour photographs.

The bad news is that processing will now take three (3) working days, instead of the old same-day service we have come to love.

Remember to list your hotel on the application along with its full address.

Click here to apply for an Egyptian visa.

27 May 2010

Russian visa times get longer

It will take longer to get Russian visas as of 15 June 2010.

The Russian Embassy told me today that due to their closing two offices in Canada, the number of visas being processed at the embassy would rise, and processing times would get longer.

Regular processing will be at least ten (10) working days; while fast processing will be about three (3) working days. At the moment there is no possibility of same-day or 24 hour processing come mid-June. However, that could change as the new application processing load becomes clearer to the staff. Stay tuned!

Click here for Russian visa application forms.

26 May 2010

VSC donates part of profits to NGO

We at Visa Services Canada are pleased to support the Life & Hope Association in Siem Reap, Cambodia. LHA helps orphans and vulnerable children, and landmine victims.

Every year VSC donates some of its profits to aid LHA in its good works.

The Venerable Somnieng Hoeurn will be visiting the Ottawa and the USA this June as part of a lecture tour and fundraising journey. We at VSC are pleased to host Somnieng during his Ottawa stay.

Click here to view the LHA website.

11 May 2010

Myanmar - Visa upon arrival

The Government of Myanmar annouced that as of May 2010 Canadians would be allowed to buy a VISA-UPON-ARRIVAL at the two main international airports in Myanmar.

Your Canadian passport must be valid for at least six more months.

Tourist visas (US$30.) will be valid for a stay of up to 28 days and CANNOT be extended in the country. Business visas will be valid for 70 days, and cost US$40.

You have to show your complete entry and exit airline ticket in order to qualify for this visa. In addition, you must have two (2) passport-style photos to present at the immigration post in the airport. You also have to have at least US$300. in currency as a tourist or a business traveller.

Most people are advised to continue to apply for a visa prior to travel. This is the safest way to travel, and having the visa in your passport will avoid being denied boarding on the international flight to Myanmar.

Click here for the Myanmar visa applciation form.

14 April 2010

Qatar Requires a Visa

Qatar, the tiny Gulf state, is about to require visas for Canadians.

The Embassy of Qatar states: "Visas upon Arrival to Qatar will no longer be granted effective May 1st, 2010".

This means that Canadians, European, and US citizens will no longer have the privilege of getting their tourist visas upon arrival at the port or airport in Qatar as of 01 May 2010.

Click here for Qatar visa forms.

31 March 2010

Cuba & Health Insurance

Cuba wants you to have medical health insurance.

As of 01 May 2010, the Cuban government requires Canadians visiting Cuba for holiday or business or family reasons to have proof of full travel medical health insurance coverage.

Please take your insurance card or policy with you when you travel to Cuba.

The insurance policy should be taken out at the home country of departure. Travelers, who, exceptionally, do not have insurance at arrival, could take out a policy of insurance and assistance from Cuban insurance companies at the airport, port or marina.

Persons not having proof of medical insurance will be required to purchase insurance at the airport from the Cuban company ASISTUR.
Alarm Central 24 hours a day:
Phones (53 7) 866-8527, 866-8339, 867-1315.
Fax (53 7) 8-66-80,
e-mail: asisten@asistur.cu; seguros@asistur.cu

For more information you can visit www.cubatravel.cu or Asistur insurance company at www.asistur.cu


29 March 2010

Nigeria Offering FAST Service

In a move which will delight business clients and oil workers, the Nigerian High Commission in Canada is once again offering fast processing of visa applications.

The usual processing time remains 7 working days, but the Nigerian consul will sign visas within 48 hours for an extra payment of $65.

This move will be greeted with open arms by people who need their passports for daily use, and cannot afford to be without for two weeks.

And remember, when applying for a Nigerian visa, you need a lot of documents! If all the documents are not in order, then the Nigerians will not be giving fast service.

Please click here for the Nigerian visa application form and detailed requirements list.

10 March 2010

Dual Citizens Beware

The Canadian Government has issued the following warning about dual citizenship.

Dual citizenship occurs when a person is the citizen of more than one country. Canadian law permits dual citizenship: you can remain or become a citizen of another country and still be recognized as a Canadian.

But dual citizenship (also called dual nationality) is not legally recognized in all countries and can lead to serious difficulties for Canadians when they are in the country of their second citizenship. It can also create problems in third countries if there is any confusion over what citizenship was used to obtain entry.

There are also risks and problems associated with having more than one citizenship.

RECOGNITION: The most important of these is that your Canadian citizenship may not be recognized in the country of your second citizenship. The authorities of that country may not recognize Canada's right to provide you with consular assistance. There could also be problems in other countries, especially if you used the travel document of the country of your second citizenship to gain entry. In such circumstances, the local authorities could decide that Canada does not have the right to provide consular assistance.

MILITARY: Many countries still have compulsory military service. If you are a citizen, and you meet other conditions, you may be legally required to register for military service and to respond to call-up orders. This legal obligation may exist even if you do not reside in the country of your second citizenship. Your obligations could be enforced even if you're just visiting at some point in the future.

TAX: Taxation arrangements between countries are complex. If you hold dual citizenship, you may have obligations in both countries. These obligations should be discussed with your financial and/or legal advisers.

MARRIAGE: Canada recognizes the legality of marriages performed in other countries. However, marriages performed in Canada may not always be considered legal in other countries. Similarly, divorce and child custody documents issued by Canadian courts may not be recognized.

CHILD ABDUCTION: Many international child abductions involve parents and children who have dual citizenship. If the abducting parent carries a second passport, Canadian authorities may encounter difficulties in preventing the abduction. The Government of Canada cannot prevent another country from providing passport services to Canadian parents or children who are also citizens of that country. You or your lawyer can request that a foreign diplomatic or consular mission not provide passport services for your child. To do so, provide the mission with a written request, along with a certified copy of any court orders dealing with custody or foreign travel by your child. Inform the foreign diplomatic or consular mission that you have also sent a copy of your request to Consular Services of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada in Ottawa.

USE YOUR CANADIAN PASSPORT: The Canadian government strongly encourages you to use your Canadian passport when travelling abroad, especially when entering the country of your second citizenship. Note that you cannot use a Certificate of Canadian Citizenship instead of a Canadian passport to travel abroad.

Click here for details from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

09 March 2010

India Bans 2nd Entry Within 2 Months

The Indian Government has issued new rules about when a tourist can re-enter India on a multi-entry tourist visa.

As of 2010 anyone using a tourist visa must be out of India for at least two months before being allowed re-entry. This means that a person visiting south Asia on a multi-country itinerary cannot simply hop in and out of India regularly. They must leave India and remain out of India for at least two (2) months before they can legally re-enter the country.

The reason for what seems like a rather draconian policy change is in fact the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. These were apparently facilitated by two US citizens who used Indian multi-entry visas to come and go repeatedly while planning the attacks and providing logistics for the attackers.

Acording to Wikipedia "In October 2009, two Chicago men were arrested and charged by the FBI for involvement in terrorism abroad, David Coleman Headley (real name: Daood Sayed Gilani) and Tahawwur Hussain Rana. Headley, a Pakistani-American, was charged in November 2009 with scouting locations for the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Headley is reported to have posed as an American Jew and is believed to have links with terrorist outfits based in Bangladesh. In December 2009, the FBI charged Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed, a retired major in the Pakistani army, for planning the terror attacks in association with Headley." "Indian investigators were surprised at how easily Headley had obtained a visa to enter India, a process that is extremely difficult for Pakistani nationals. Headley's U.S. passport, his new Christian sounding name, and the fact that the passport and his visa application made no mention of his prior name or nationality, made it easy for him to obtain an Indian visa from the Indian consulate in Chicago. He also falsely stated on his visa application that his father's name was William Headley and that his own name at birth was Headley, a claim that was difficult to refute since the U.S. passport, unlike the Indian one, does not provide the father's name, and does not require endorsements on name changes by the passport holder."

So the actions of some US citizens who probably helped the attackers while using tourist visas and repeatedly and quickly entering and re-entering India have led to the ending of quick re-entry for all tourists. This also explains why the Indian visa application form asks for details about parents and their nationalities at birth.

Lesson: when planning your Indian and South Asian itinerary, remember to have all of India done in one visit, then exit the region through another country.

VSC Charity in Cambodia

We at Visa Services Canada are pleased to support the Life & Hope Association in Siem Reap, Cambodia. LHA helps orphans and vulnerable children, and landmine victims.

VSC uses some of its profits to aid LHA in its good works.

Recently LHA had to take over a faultering orphanage on the edge of Siem Reap. I have personally been to this orphanage and know that LHA will continue the good works here.

The photo, taking in early March 2010, shows the orphans holding a thank you sign in recognition of the recent donation to the facility.

10 February 2010

Cameroon visa scam at passport control

Today some past clients wrote to us with a story of their time in Cameroon. The following scam should be a warning to all travellers: make and keep copies of your passport and your visas.

"Our trip went very well, due in a large part to your efforts. Douala (Cameroon) went OK, but another entire set of bureaucrats in another city, Garoua, did not. They demanded that I surrender my passport to go to another room and when they returned they had peeled off the visa (revenue) stamp and told me the visa was not valid because it had no
stamp. I was able to produce a copy of the visa, provided by you, indicating that the stamp was there. That did seem to slow them down, but money seemed to be the lubrication required to get the wheels of government to move." J.H. 10 Feb 2010.

05 February 2010

Panama visa update

The Embassy of Panama has just told me that they have now received official word from the immigration and passports directorate of Panama regarding Canadian passport holders. The great news is that they DO NOT require visas, despite the law requiring visas now that tourist cards have been abolished.

So as of now Canadian citizens, using Canadian passports, can freely enter Panama by airplane or cruise ship for a stay of up to 90 days, WITHOUT getting a visa.

02 February 2010


Canadians going to Panama by air or on a cruise ship are now required to have a visa in their passports prior to travel.

As of January 2010, Canadians have to get visas for Panama. This is due to a change in Panamanian law which was supposed to make tourist travel easier. Panama abolished the "Tourist Card" formerly available at airports and on cruise ships. However, Canada is on a list of countries whose citizens require either a tourist card or a visa. With the abolition of the tourist card, Canadians now must have a Panamanian "stamped visa".

Canadian citizens must apply for a visa with the proper visa application form; an original valid passport, plus a copy of the passport; a colour passport photo; a copy of the air ticket, or cruise ticket (booking confirmation form); a hotel reservation (not for people on a cruise); and a visa fee of US$35. Visas are issued in about a week.

Click here for the Panamanian stamped visa application form.