The Canadian government has no plans to give into pressure to lift visa requirements for visitors from Ukraine.
Despite a direct request from lobby group the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), an immigration department spokesperson said it was not going to happen.
“Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada continues to monitor conditions in Ukraine, however Ukraine does not currently meet the criteria for a visa exemption,” the spokesperson said.
“We continue to look at service offerings that would assist Ukrainians to travel to Canada, such as the multiple-entry visa.”
Immigration Minister John McCallum met with members of the influential UCC this month, where he was urged to drop the visa requirement.
The request comes following a February 2014 uprising which ousted the pro-Russian government in Ukraine.
There are concerns over corruption and an ongoing political standoff between reformers and the existing elite.
However, the European Union is seemingly in the process of dropping its visa stipulation, granting Ukrainians access to the Schengen area of countries.
Although the move is yet to be ratified by the European Parliament, Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos had some encouraging words for the country.
“This is the result of the success of the Ukrainian government in achieving far-reaching and difficult reforms in areas such as the rule of law and justice reform,” he said. “I am very satisfied with the progress achieved.”
The Liberal government is likely to face continued pressure given the 1.2 million Canadian citizens with Ukrainian roots.
“We call on the government to establish a timetable and criteria for the lifting of visa requirements,” said Orest Zakydalsky, senior policy adviser for the UCC.
“And we look forward to working with the Government of Canada and the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to establish a visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens travelling to Canada.”
Elsewhere, Mexico is also pushing for visa free travel to Canada for its citizens, while immigration officials are also in high-level talks with the EU over travel rights for Romanians and Bulgarians.
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