Visa Application Centres (VACs) are independent service providers that are authorized by the Government of Canada to facilitate the submission of applications for temporary resident visas and study or work permits and permanent resident travel documents to Canadian immigration points of service abroad. They are an optional service channel for clients and play no role in the visa decision-making process. Visa assessment and issuance remains with Visa Officers.
CIC has been using the services of VACs around the world since 2000 with arrangements made with service providers by the responsible immigration program manager of the individual Canadian mission. The Mexico VACs were the first to be established centrally and governed by CIC Headquarters in Ottawa. They are seen as the model for the future Global VAC network which will eventually be expanded to include biometric enrolment of temporary resident applicants.
The VACs in Mexico assist applicants for temporary residence in Canada by providing information to clients, receiving paper applications and supporting documents from applicants and forwarding these to the CIC mission daily, entering personal information into an electronic Canadian Visa Application Tracking System that is transmitted to the CIC mission, accepting passport packages from the mission for pick up by the applicant and performing other related activities. The VAC staff has no role in decision-making - visa assessment and issuance remains with Visa Officers in Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
A Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) was conducted on the Mexico VACs in late 2009 to determine the effects of VACs as a service delivery method on individual privacy; to use as a planning tool to avoid or mitigate any adverse effects; and to set the groundwork for assessing the expanded global VAC model. The privacy risks identified as part of this assessment were rated as low to moderate and principally involved the security of IT systems and the level of privacy awareness of VAC personnel. Strategies have been implemented to mitigate all identified risks.
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