Canadian Government to Remove Visa Requirement For Mexicans

A Mexican passport. Mexico could soon be added to the Canadian government’s list of visa-exempt countries

The Canadian government is in talks with the government of Mexico to eliminate visa requirements for Mexicans travelling to Canada. Prime Minister Harper said he would only create a visa exemption for Mexicans if it was assured that it would not lead to a flood of asylum claims.

Canada has had problems with large numbers of refugee claimants arriving in the country from countries that it has made visa-exempt, in particular Hungary.

Almost all of these claimants end up being rejected by the Refugee Board or abandoning their claim, but not before receiving thousands of dollars worth of welfare and free health care courtesy of the federal government.

One Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) study estimates each bogus refugee claimant costs Canada $50,000, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars of extra costs for the Canadian economy each year due to fraudulent refugee claims.

One measure that could help reduce the problem of bogus refugee claims from visa-exempt countries is the new ‘mini-visa’ that Canada will soon be introducing, which will require individuals from visa-exempt countries excluding the U.S. to acquire a Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) online before boarding their flight to Canada.

The mini-visa will enable Canadian authorities to screen out failed refugee claimants, ending the problem of a merry go-round of deportees returning to Canada to make new claims that take months to process and reject.

Federal Government Imposing Visa Requirements on St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland

The tropical Caribbean island nation of Saint Lucia was one of the countries that lost its visa-exempt status in Canada on September 12th due to what CIC said were high levels of asylum claims and unreliable passports

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced this week that citizens of St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (St. Vincent), Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland will require a visa to travel to Canada, effective 12:01 AM EDT on September 12th.

Individuals who held passports from these countries were previously visa exempt, but due to what CIC says is unreliability in the authenticity of travel documents from these countries, the exemption is being repealed. It was found that citizens from these countries were able to legally change their names and acquire new passports, allowing them to re-enter Canada with new passports after being deported from Canada as security risks.

Visa requirements were also imposed due to the excessively high number of asylum seekers from St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Namibia. The worst offender was Namibia, from which an astonishing 71 percent of those who visited Canada claimed refugee status in 2011, according to CIC.

Commenting on the visa imposition, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said: “These changes are necessary because all the countries concerned have an immigration violation rate of over thirty percent, well above the level we deem acceptable for countries benefiting from a visa exemption.”

CIC said that the Canadian government regularly reviews the visa requirements it places on other countries, and that countries are aware of the conditions they must meet to receive a visa exemption.