St Lucia disappointed at Canada’s visa requirements
CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Sept 12, CMC – The St. Lucia government Wednesday expressed its disappointment at the decision by Canada to impose visa requirements on nationals entering the North American country.
In a brief statement, the Kenny Anthony administration said it is “disappointed and dismayed by the decision of the Government of Canada to impose visas on St. Lucians who wish to travel to Canada.
“The Government of St. Lucia deeply regrets that the Canadian Government did not give it an opportunity to address the concerns regarding the claims of “unreliable travel documents” allegedly held by some St. Lucians,” statement said, promising that a “full statement will be issued by the government subsequent to the receipt of a letter from the Canadian government conveying its decision”.
Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said that nationals from St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines would now need a visa to travel enter the country as the North American country clamps down on people making false claims for resident status.
“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,” a statement from Citizen and Immigration Canada (CIC) said, adding that in the cases of Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland which are also affected by the decision, human trafficking, especially of minors, and fraudulent documents are significant concerns.
Kenney said these requirements will better protect the safety of Canadians by preventing foreign criminals from coming to Canada in the first place.
“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,” CIC said.
“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 Trinidad and Tobago, CIC said, adding that in the months ahead travellers to Canada will be able to apply online for all temporary visas.
On Tuesday, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told a news conference in Kingstown that people were making “bogus refugee claims” for obtaining residency in the North American country.
“The problem would come to us sooner or later. Bona fide people will still get into Canada just like how bona fide people get into America. It is only that it is another expense,” he told reporters.
Gonsalves described the decision by Canadian immigration authorities to introduce the visa as “unfortunate” adding “that is the case”.