Ottawa, September 11, 2012 — Beginning at 12:01 a.m. EDT today citizens of St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (St. Vincent), Namibia, Botswana, and Swaziland now require a visa to travel to Canada, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced.
For the first 48 hours, or until 11:59 a.m. September 12, citizens of these countries who are in transit to Canada at the time the visa requirement takes effect will be able to receive a Temporary Resident Permit on arrival in Canada, free of charge, if they are not otherwise inadmissible to Canada.
“We continue to welcome genuine visitors to Canada,” said Minister Kenney. “However, these visa requirements will give us a greater ability to manage the flow of people into Canada.”
This change will allow Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and its partners to screen more travellers for security risks prior to their arrival in Canada. This will help significantly reduce the risk that individuals engaged in organized crime or the trafficking of persons could gain entry to Canada.
A key reason why the Government has imposed visa requirements on St. Lucia and St. Vincent is unreliable travel documents. In particular, criminals from these countries can legally change their names and acquire new passports. In some instances, people who were removed from Canada as security risks later returned using different passports. In the cases of Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland, human trafficking, especially of minors, and fraudulent documents are significant concerns.
“These requirements will better protect the safety of Canadians by preventing foreign criminals from coming to Canada in the first place,” said Minister Kenney.
Canada regularly reviews its visa requirements toward other countries. Countries are aware that they have a responsibility to satisfy certain conditions to receive a visa exemption.
This visa policy change means that nationals from St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland who want to travel to Canada will first need to apply for a visitor visa and meet the requirements to receive one.
It is up to applicants to satisfy visa officers that their visit to Canada is temporary and they will not overstay their authorized stay; have enough money to cover their stay; are in good health; do not have a criminal record; and are not a security risk to Canadians. These requirements are the same for anyone who wants to visit Canada.
Applicants from St. Lucia and St. Vincent can now submit their applications by mail or in person to the Canadian visa office in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Applications will be accepted by the visa office in Pretoria, South Africa, for those from Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland. In the months ahead travellers to Canada will be able to apply online for all temporary visas.
This decision will further strengthen the immigration and asylum systems, and it complements the measures the government is implementing this year under the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, which recently received Royal Assent, and those proposed in Bill C-43, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act.
“The Government of Canada remains committed to preserving the security of our borders and immigration system, and to protecting the safety of Canadians,” said Minister Kenney.
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Citizenship and Immigration Canada
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