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LETTER | Classify visa processing as an essential service

LETTER | Concerned students and workers across Malaysia are gravely dissatisfied with the prolonged closure of the one and only VFS Visa Application Centre (VFS) located inside the Wisma MCA building in Kuala Lumpur.

A petition was launched on June 30 and has since gathered more than 1,000 signatures demanding for the centre to swiftly resume normal operations before the university or employment start dates are overshot.

VFS (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, an outsourcing company that manages visa applications for governments across the world, has said it will be remain closed due to local government lockdown restrictions until further notice.

We, the affected visa applicants hailing from diverse backgrounds, ages, gender, ethnicity and expertise have come together virtually to form an advocacy alliance.

We profoundly believe that the VFS Visa Application Centre is an essential service that should be allowed to resume normal operations that adhere to all mandatory Covid-19 SOPs.

We are concerned that the further closure of VFS will be a catastrophe as the mounting backlogs might cause undesirable delays for applicants to receive their visa approvals on time. 

We project that the peak time for visa applications will range from July till October as students are expected to apply for their September enrolment while workers rush to start work for the new fiscal year. 

We emphasise that the demand to re-open VFS should also be met with stringent infection prevention measures to ensure the health and safety of all.

Fact sheet:

1. Who is affected

Malaysians and Non-Malaysians

a. Employees moving for work

b. Students

i. UK university intakes begin in September 2021. Students need to arrive in the UK by August for quarantine reasons.

c. Dependents

d. Partners

e. Family members

2. Why VFS needs to reopen and is essential

a. A visa is an official document that allows the bearer to legally enter a foreign country. The visa is usually stamped or glued onto the bearer’s passport. There are several different types of visas, each of which afford the bearer different rights in the host country.

VFS Global Visa Application Centre processes visa’s for the following countries Including but not limited to 

  • UK
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Canada
  • Singapore
  • Japan
  • Schengen visa (Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland)

Therefore, VFS Global Visa Application Centre is an organisation that must be allowed to operate under a lockdown/movement control order (MCO) as it is an “essential service” per the guidelines released by Majlis Keselamatan Negara (NSC)

The enhanced MCO introduced by the government for certain areas in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur from July 3 to 16 does not impact the reopening of VFS as VFS is not located in an enhanced MCO area.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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