Above: Parliament in Ottawa
By the Caribbean Journal staff
St Lucia’s government said it was “disappointed” following the decision by Canada’s government to impose visas for visitors from the country.
Now, citizens of St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland require visas to travel to Canada, according to Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenny.
“We continue to welcome genuine visitors to Canada,” Kenney said in a statement. “These changes are necessary to protect the integrity of Canada’s fair and generous immigration system by helping us to reduce an unacceptably high number of immigration violations.”
As for the two Caribbean countries on the list, Canada said the decision was the result of “unreliable travel documents.”
“Criminals from these countries can legally change their names and acquire passports,” the Immigration Ministry said. “In some instances, people who were removed from Canada as security risks later returned using different passports.”
Canada also said there had been an “unacceptably high” number of asylum claims from St Lucia and St Vincent, with approximately 1.5 percent and 3 percent of the population of the countries, respectively, making asylum claims in Canada over the past five years.
“These changes are necessary because all the countries concerned have an immigration violation rate of over 30 percent,” Kenney said, “well above the level we deem acceptable for countries benefiting from a visa exemption.”
In a statement, St Lucia’s government said it regretted that Canada “did not give it an opportunity to address the concerns” regarding the allegedly unreliable travel documents.
The changes mean St Lucian and Vincentian visitors will need to apply for a visa and meet its requirements in order to travel to Canada. Applicants from the countries will need to submit their applications by mail to the Canadian visa office in Port of Spain, Trinidad.