The second Finnish Visa Application Centre was officially opened in Kyiv in October. The centre guides applicants in submitting a visa application, accepts visa applications, and delivers visa approval documents. However, applications are processed and decisions for granting visas are made at the Embassy.
Thanks to the new Visa Application Centre, applicants can be provided a faster and improved service. The Finnish Visa Application Centre is operated by VFS Global, a company with many years of experience of visa application process in cooperation with diplomatic missions worldwide. The Embassy in Kyiv hope that customers will find their way to the Visa Application Centre. A similar service centre opened in Moscow in June has received positive feedback.
The Visa Application Centre in Kyiv was officially opened in mid-October. The first customer for Finland was a representative of a travelling agency, who submitted applications for the agency's employees. Ambassador Michelsson gave the first customer a bouquet of blue and white flowers and some Finnish chocolates. After having recovered from the surprise, the agency representative praised the services of the Centre.
"Now that the Visa Application Centre has been operational for two weeks, we at the Embassy are very happy with the work and, especially, the positive feedback received from the customers. Positive developments for customers include faster processing times and much shorter queues," says Christer Michelsson, Ambassador of Finland in Kyiv. "One of the factors contributing to faster processing times is introduction of an electronic visa application form. It has made the work much easier and faster for our visa approval personnel. Another improvement is a more efficient telephone exchange that replaces the old and often congested exchange system. We believe that it is now much easier for customers to get through," says Michelson, happy with the improvements. For an extra fee, customers now have access to a courier service that delivers the passport and the visa approval document straight to, for example, the customer's home address. After submitting the application, customers can track the status of their application online. The centre also has a passport photographing service, in case photos are needed.
Opening of the Visa Application Centre has been a huge effort for the Embassy in Kyiv. The process has been facilitated by the experience accumulated in Moscow and all the people involved in the project. Project manager Katja-Marika Puittinen has managed the entire project on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign affairs. "Now that the centre is in its infancy, we have been learning new operating models and methods for the Embassy and the Visa Application Centre. We are aiming for operating models that are fluent, flexible and time-saving for both the Embassy and the Visa Application Centre. The Embassy and its officers have made an extra effort to implement the new ways of operating and further improve them. As the project manager in charge, I'm both happy for and proud of the local input!"
Puittinen is also pleased with the partner, VFS Global. "Our cooperation has been fluent on all levels from the officers of the visa centre to the top managers," Puittinen stresses. The Visa Application Centre is now successfully opened, but the work at the Embassy continues.