Tue | Jun 22, 2021

Visa application nightmare

Published:Tuesday | July 16, 2019 | 12:21 AM


On Monday I had the unpleasant experience of interacting with employees at the Canada Visa Application Centre (VAC) in Montego Bay. The VAC in Montego Bay is an embarrassment to what Canada stands for. The process of simply submitting the passport to have the visa printed became an unnecessarily tedious exercise that led to frustration and regret.

First, upon entering the establishment at Whitter Village, the security on duty made it clear that there was no line or number system for customers who were either completing their biometrics or simply dropping off their passports for the visa to be printed. This was a surprise to me since the VAC in Kingston, which is much larger, has a numeric system.

When I proceeded to question the security further, after noticing that he instructed customers who came in after me to move ahead of the imaginary queue, he let me know, in his best version of the vernacular, and quite loudly, that he has a lot in his head and I should not question him at this time.

He angrily walked out and then returned to play his online game on his smartphone. Other customers were also puzzled, and some even laughed at his response to the simple questions. It was clear to me that he possibly had serious personal issues that were interfering with his job.

In his absence, I asked the customer care representative on duty to clarify whether or not there was a system for organising the customers, and with a stern and clearly frustrated frown, she proceeded to tell me that the system here is just to be inside the building and take a note of whom I saw when I entered.

embarrassing and unsatisfactory

This kind of display of incompetence and disorder is unbecoming of what customer care should be in Jamaica. As a citizen, it is not only embarrassing but it is unsatisfactory, as the VAC is representing another country which requires large sums of money for Jamaicans willing to visit there.

I hope there is some way that the service at this establishment can be improved. I suggest stringent training and reconsideration of the remuneration packages for the staff, since they are clearly dissatisfied with their roles in this organisation.

Customers are humans and this mentality to herd humans into an office until “someone recognises them” is uncivilised and unacceptable. We aren’t show-girls. We are not supposed to be bundled into a building then hand-picked by a security guard with a glaring superiority complex, to be allowed to access the ‘special’ people behind the closed doors.

The American embassy has clearly trumped the Canadians in this experience.

Norty Antoine