Finland’s Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb opens state-of-the-art visa centre in St. Petersburg with 83 service counters and more than 200 employees. The 3,000 square meters top-modern visa centre was opened this week by Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb.
With the new visa centre, Russians will no longer need to stand for hours in queue to deliver their passport documents. Applying for visa will take no more than 15 minutes, according to the information posted at the portal of Finland’s Consulate General.
It is, however, not the staff of the Consulate General that man the new visa centre. Finland is outsourcing the work on receiving and delivering out visas. The centre is operated by the Indian company VFS, while the all decisions relating to visas still will be taken by the staff of the Consulate General.
Since 2005, visas to Finland issued in St. Petersburg have tripled to 751,000 in 2010.55 of the 83 service counters are reserved ordinary applicants. The 28 other counters are for tour operators and travel agencies. The visa-centre is located over two floors with both escalator and elevators within the Olympic Plaza shopping centre.
With an ensured maximum waiting time of 15 minutes, customers can drop in and pick up their visa during the lunch break without wasting much time.
Consul General Olli Perhentupa said “It is hard to imagine a better place for the visa center, because it is located near several metro stations and other transport hubs downtown.”
The centre is open from 9 to 17 on weekdays, but the Consulate General says the centre can work even in weekends if necessary. Also, if visa applicants forget to bring a photo, they can do it at the new centre. There is a bank desk, and customers can purchase snacks and refreshments.