Canadian Government Revokes Visa-Free Entry for St Lucia and St Vincent Nationals

Caribbean 360 announced that ticket holders for trips to Canada from St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines have been thrown into confusion since the Canadian government revoked their visa-free entry into Canada as of midnight on September 11, 2012.

The Canadian High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago has informed all such travellers via its website that they must now apply for a temporary resident visa at its office in Port of Spain. Those already en route to Canada when the surprise new policy was announced were advised that when they touched down in the North American country they would receive a temporary visa free of charge, but that concession ended as of midnight on September 12.

Citizens of St Lucia and St. Vincent have been lumped in with those from Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) in having their visa exemptions revoked due to what CIC has indicated is the unreliability in the authenticity of travel documents from these countries. In fact, the government said documents from St Lucia and St Vincent were “unreliable” because “criminals from these countries can legally change their names and acquire new passports.” Visa requirements were also imposed due to the excessively high number of asylum seekers from St Lucia, St Vincent and Namibia, according to CIC.

Concerns about human trafficking and fraudulent travel documents also prompted the Canadian government to impose new visitor visa requirements on the citizens of these five countries.

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.” [. . .] Now, nationals from the targeted countries will have to satisfy immigration officers that they “will not overstay their authorized stay” and “are not a security risk to Canadians,” before their visa applications are approved, stated the CIC.

“We continue to welcome genuine visitors to Canada,” Minister Jason Kenney said in the release. “However, these visa requirements will give us a greater ability to manage the flow of people into Canada.”

The federal government is moving to strip as many as 3,139 new Canadians of their citizenship as part of a massive ongoing investigation targeting nearly 11,000 immigrants suspected of fraud. [. . .]

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