Canada is under pressure to find a way to grant visa-free travel to Mexico ahead of an upcoming summit in Ottawa.
Mexico and the US will come to Canada for the ‘Three Amigos’ summit on June 29, with Justin Trudeau under pressure to make good on an election pledge to lift restrictions.
The main problem is cost – the need for a visa was imposed by the Conservatives in 2009 because of the overwhelming number of asylum claims from Mexico. The number of claims dropped from 9,000 to 1,199 as a result of the move, with associated costs falling from $304 million to $44 million.
Canada is understood to be considering waiting until it has the staff to monitor a potential influx of Mexicans, and threatening to re-impose the restriction if too many asylum cases are received.
Countries with visa-free travel to Canada*
Antigua and Barbuda
British overseas citizen re-admissible to UK
British overseas territory citizen from:
British Virgin Islands
Turks and Caicos Islands
Papua New Guinea
*All of the above countries do require Canada’s new Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA)
Immigration Minister John McCallum says ways to offset the risks are being explored.
Mexico is understood to meet or be close to meeting the social and economic requirement for visa-free travel, according to immigration officials.
But it does not meet criteria involving visa refusals and violations.
Trudeau reiterated his intention to lift the restriction after he was elected, citing the benefits to Canadians via tourism dollars.
The Tourism Industry Association of Canada says $465 million was lost as a result of the restriction.
It is also rumoured Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto may not turn up to the Ottawa meeting if the restriction is not lifted in time.
Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine are among the other countries currently lobbying Canada for visa-free travel.
Canada would place itself in a difficult position if it lifts the restriction for Mexico, having told the other three countries they do not meet requirements.
Romania and Bulgaria are the only members of the European Union’s Schengen zone requiring a visa to visit Canada. The EU wants this restriction lifted as part of a reciprocal deal that allows Canadians to move in the opposite direction. If the restriction is not lifted, Canadians are likely to require a visa to visit Europe, although the Schengen zone does not include Britain and Ireland.
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