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Saudi Arabia

VFS speeds up process for acquisition of entry visas

Getting entry visas for many countries in Europe, Asia and Australia has become speedy, thanks to hassle-free procedures being adopted by a professional agency located outside the Diplomatic Quarters.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Paul Vijayakumar, chief operating officer of VFS Global (Africa and Middle East), said prior to the introduction of VFS Global’s services, applicants were required to visit the diplomatic missions’ offices to submit and collect their visa applications.
“Today, we are privileged to be the trusted partners for 11 governments, including Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, India, Italy, Malta, Singapore, Spain and the UK. We are operating in three major cities of the Kingdom, jointly with our local partner Al Etimad Modern Business Solutions Co. (ETIMAD), conveniently located and easily accessible state-of-the-art Visa Application Centers.
He said approximately 450,000 visa applications and 120,000 biometric enrolments in Saudi Arabia are made annually.
Outlining how the business of visa application process outsourcing came about for VFS Global in Saudi Arabia, he said VFS Global was established in 2001 as an outsourcing partner of diplomatic missions and consular sections to manage all administrative and non-judgmental tasks related to the lifecycle of a visa application process.
“In May 2005, we were appointed by the Government of Australia for our first operations in Saudi Arabia with the opening of three Australia Visa Application Centers in Alkhobar, Jeddah and Riyadh,” he said.
Talking on the earlier process for applying visas for Saudi nationals and how it differs now with introduction of VFS Global’s outsourced services, he said earlier, applicants were required to visit the diplomatic missions’ offices to submit and collect their visa applications.
“Our professional services are aimed at providing a high level, customer-oriented services to visa applicants to make the visa application process faster and easier, offering maximum convenience at all times,” he observed.
He continued: Quality and continuous improvement in processes, as well as security – both physical and data, are also our core focus areas when serving applicants at VFS Global. Hence, applicants are assured of quality service and safe, secure handling of their applications at our visa application centers.
VFS Global brings with its professional services in terms of accessibility, convenience and quicker processing/ turn-around-time.
“When availing of our services, applicants can benefit from a host of facilities and additional services such as conveniently located and easily accessible state-of-the art Visa Application Centers, longer operating hours which allows applicants to visit at a time of their convenience, professional staff dedicated to handling visa queries and applications,” he added.
Other benefits are premium lounge facilities for personalized and faster application process, separate waiting lounge for male and female applicants, dedicated website for easy access to information, including visa types, requirements and check-list, biometrics, applicable fees and application status.
“We have dedicated call centers and e-mail support to answer queries and status of application. They are in addition to online appointment scheduling, payment and tracking of application status. We send SMS alerts for visa status update on mobile phones and provide door-to-door delivery of passports with 100 percent secure handling of passports, documents and personal information.
“Our centers are equipped with state-of-the-art security systems and highest levels of security practices, including CCTV cameras installed at all strategic locations, access controls at all entry and exit points, smoke detectors and fire alarms. Security guards are also deployed for constant vigilance at all public frequented areas of our premises.
To meet the demands of our clients, we have embedded best-value practices in our operations. From the distribution of visa application forms to returning processed applications, and related services, VFS Global follows a series of highly advanced, precise and streamlined processes to ensure applicants' and our clients' absolute security and confidentiality.
Our offices and operations across the world are certified with ISO 9001:2008 for Quality Management System and ISO 27001:2005 for Information Security Management System by TUV SUD, one of the world’s leading external and independent certification bodies.
Saudi nationals and expatriates in the country can apply for their visas at VFS Global’s convenient and comfortable Visa Application Centers and expect secured, quality and professional services at all times.

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