Canada has imposed visa requirements on five new countries. The countries are St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Namibia, Botswana, and Swaziland.
In its press release the government stated that the reasons for the imposition of the visa requirement on these countries were to:
- Reduce the risk that individuals engaged in organized crime or the trafficking of persons could gain entry to Canada, and to address concerns over fraudulent documents.
- Address the issue of unreliable travel documents from St. Lucia and St. Vincent because 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.
Of course, the unspoken reason behind any decision to impose a temporary resident visa requirement on the country is that the government is concerned that people will not leave Canada at the end of their authorized stay, and in some cases claim refugee status.
Data from the Canadian Council of Refugees confirms that concern over refugee claims was likely a factor in imposing visa requirements on at least two of the above-mentioned countries.
In 2011, the Immigration and Refugee Board decided, or claimants abandoned, 824 refugee claims for individuals from Saint Vincent. Indeed, this small island nation with a population of 120,000 was the 8th highest source country for refugee claims in Canada. Of the 824 individuals, 76 abandoned their claims. Only 38.5% of the remaining claims were accepted, which was below the 2011 global average.
To put the 824 individuals into perspective, in 2011 almost 0.7% of Saint Vincent’s population had a refugee claim decided in Canada.
There was also a large number of refugee claims (604) from Saint Lucia, another small Caribbean nation with a population of 176,000, and the 12th largest source country of refugee claimants (between much larger India and Pakistan)
There were less claims from the three African countries that now have temporary resident visa requirements (140 claims from Namibia, 148 claims from Botswana, and 39 claims from Swaziland). However, it is worth noting that these three countries were the last three African countries to have visa requirements imposed on them, and the thought process at CIC may simply have been to round out the continent.
Applicants from St. Lucia and St. Vincent will be required submit their visa 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.
Hopefully processing will be fast, because people from St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Namibia, Botswana, and Swaziland with valid work permits and study permits who are currently outside of Canada (and not in the United States – with some exceptions) will need to apply for visas before they can enter or return to Canada.
I sure feel for students who went home for summer holidays thinking that they would easily return in September for school, and will now likely miss a substantial period of their semester.