Con­ve­nient ser­vice strength­ens ties

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Qi Xi­jia

The Is­rael Visa Ap­pli­ca­tion Cen­tre (VAC) in Shang­hai held its grand open­ing on Tues­day. As one of three visa ap­pli­ca­tion cen­ters – along with its sis­ter branches in Bei­jing and Guangzhou – the cen­ter ex­pects to start op­er­a­tions at the end of July, pro­vid­ing quicker and more con­ve­nient ser­vice to an ever-grow­ing num­ber of ap­pli­cants.

Zvi Heifetz, Am­bas­sador of Is­rael to China, Eyal Prop­per, Con­sul Gen­eral of Is­rael in Shang­hai, Li­mor Yo­gev, Con­sul of the Em­bassy of Is­rael in Bei­jing and Li­mor Gadi, Con­sul of the Is­raeli Con­sulate in Shang­hai, at­tended the VAC open­ing cer­e­mony and cut the rib­bon to­gether.

“It is very im­por­tant to deeply strengthen ties at the peo­ple to peo­ple level,” said Am­bas­sador Zvi Heifetz, not­ing the im­por­tance of tourism as “among the main mea­sures” to strengthen these ties.

The newly opened VAC is lo­cated on the third floor of Long Yu In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness Plaza in Jing’an dis­trict. It is ex­pected to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for doc­u­ment col­lec­tion and tele­phone ser­vices from the con­sulate by the end of this month. The VIP Ex­press ser­vice at the new VAC pro­vides an op­tion to is­sue visas to ap­pli­cants who meet the visa re­quire­ments af­ter one work­ing day, an 80 per­cent re­duc­tion from the usual pro­cess­ing time of five work­ing days.

Ap­pli­cants may ap­ply in­per­son at the visa cen­ter, or sub­mit their doc­u­ments via post and track their visa sta­tus at any time. The visa cen­ter will also pro­vide full work­ing day phone ser­vices to help ap­pli­cants.

“The open­ing of visa cen­ters is an­other step to fur­ther sim­plify the visa pol­icy,” said Con­sul Li­mor Yo­gev of the Em­bassy of Is­rael in Bei­jing, “fol­low­ing the mu­tual visa ex­emp­tion for ser­vice and diplo­matic pass­port hold­ers, 10-year visa ini­tia­tive and on­line pay­ment in the last two years,” Yo­gev said.

Al­though Con­sul Yo­gev could not say how many visa ap­pli­ca­tions the VAC would re­ceive, she ex­pects fur­ther growth of visa ap­pli­ca­tions as VAC brings more con­ve­nience and ef­fi­ciency to Is­raeli visa ap­pli­cants.

Ac­cord­ing to Con­sul Gen­eral Prop­per, the Con­sulate Gen­eral of Is­rael in Shang­hai is­sued around 12,000 visas in 2017. In ad­di­tion, nearly 130,000 Chi­nese ci­ti­zens vis­ited Is­rael in 2017 as a re­sult of open­ing di­rect flights as well as the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the 10-year visa. He hopes the open­ing of the visa ap­pli­ca­tion cen­ter will fur­ther boost the num­ber of Chi­nese vis­i­tors to Is­rael.

“This ini­tia­tive to open the visa ap­pli­ca­tion cen­ter is a very im­por­tant tool, said Con­sul Gen­eral Prop­per, “to make the ap­pli­ca­tion of visas more ef­fi­cient, faster and closer to the peo­ple,” ex­press­ing a hope that the VAC will con­tinue to strengthen busi­ness and tourism ties be­tween Is­rael and China.

Pho­tos: Yang Hui/GT

From top: Zvi Heifetz (right), Am­bas­sador of Is­rael to China, at the open­ing cer­e­mony of Is­rael Visa Ap­pli­ca­tion Cen­tre; Two women pose for pho­tos at the visa cen­ter.

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