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During 2009, Canada enacted new legislation that changed the way that citizens of Mexico had to approach visiting their northern neighbours. Due to a backlog within the refugee system consisting of Mexicans attempting to claim asylum, travellers were required to obtain a visa in order to visit, making the Canadian border one of the most difficult for Mexicans to cross. These new visa requirements were controversial enough for President Pena Nieto to declare these new laws as a major irritant in the relationship between the two countries.
Due to a backlog within the refugee system consisting of Mexicans attempting to claim asylum, travellers were required to obtain a visa in order to visit, making the Canadian border one of the most difficult for Mexicans to cross. These new visa requirements were controversial enough for President Pena Nieto to declare these new laws as a major irritant in the relationship between the two countries.
Ambassador Francisco Suarez went as far as stating that “we’re now really mad. Canada has the most stringent visa system for Mexicans of any country in the world.” In addition to straining economic relations between the two countries, the strict new laws have added a lot of stress for Mexicans who have a legitimate path to citizenship, or who simply wish to visit Canadian family members and friends.
During the G20 summit in Turkey on November 15, 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Enrique Pena Nieto met to discuss a variety of shared issues, including the visa requirements that frustrated Mexico for more than six years. During these meetings, the Prime Minister stayed true to his campaign promise of immigration reform. Instead of continuing with the status quo, Prime Minister Trudeau promised to begin the process of altering the strict visa requirements for Mexican citizens to visit Canada.
Some of the more contentious issues included an onerous amount of paperwork that appeared to have little value in terms of determining who should visit and who should be rejected at the border. One of the stranger questions included the need to list the date of death for the applicant’s mother and father, should they be deceased. Instead of this long-winded process, Mexicans will enjoy the same privileged that U.S. citizens will enjoy when visiting Canada.
A recent announcement by the Canadian government suggests that Mexican citizens will soon be able to visit the country in the same way that Canadian and United States citizens travel across borders. After November 30th, 2016, Mexican travellers will no longer have to obtain a specific visa to visit, which means that they no longer have to fill out lengthy forms or undergo long, bureaucratic processes. This will increase the flow of business between the two countries, leading to the benefit of both.
Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexicans will be able to visit Canada for a period of up to six months at a time. When authorized by a Border Services Officer, the visitor’s passport will include the date they must return. Similar to the U.S. system, failure to leave during the allowed time frame will likely result in difficulty returning to Canada.
It should be noted that all the previous requirements for Mexican citizens who wish to work and live in Canada will remain the same. As a visitor, Mexican citizens are not allowed to work or live within the Canadian border without a specific work visa. Programs include skilled and unskilled work, as well as investor programs and initiatives spearheaded by both federal and provincial governments.
Applying for these programs will become a bit easier for Mexican citizens, assuming they meet the requirements of these immigration streams. Instead of difficulty visiting Canada because of a complicated visa process, Mexicans will be able to focus on finding a program appropriate for their situation.
Rather than apply for a visa to visit, Mexican nationals will only need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to be welcomed legally to Canada. Often, an eTA may be acquired quickly and without significant expense by applying online. Access to this visa-exempt program is securely linked to the passport used to travel across the border.
When approved, this eTA has an expiry date of five years, or the length of the passport’s expiry date, according to which comes first.
Despite the fact that the Canadian government is now making it easier than ever for Mexican visitors to enjoy a trip to Canada, issues with processing may cause delays, especially if you’re attempting to arrive before the new eTA system is implemented over the old visitor visa.
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