Canada reinstates visa requirement for Mexican visitors

Canada reinstates visa requirement for Mexican visitors

Canada announced Thursday it will require visas for Mexican citizens to enter the country, a move that comes amid a surge in asylum applications from Mexicans arriving in Canada.

The rule follows months of discussions between the two countries about increasing the number of Mexicans entering Canada, including repeated attempts by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss the issue with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Some provincial officials say the surge in asylum seekers has strained their resources and their ability to provide social services.

“We should have given Mexico, because of our friendship, the chance to fix things,” Mark Miller, Canada’s immigration minister, told a news conference.

“That obviously wasn’t done,” he added, “so we had to make a decision.”

The visa mandate, which will take effect Thursday night, was lifted by Mr. Trudeau in 2016 to boost tourism and as a sign of the close ties between the two countries.

Since then, the number of Mexican asylum applications has increased to approximately 24,000 last year from 260 eight years ago. About 17 percent of all asylum applications in Canada last year were made by Mexican nationals.

Most asylum applications from Mexico are rejected, withdrawn or abandoned, Mr. Miller said, clogging up an immigration system already strained trying to deal with a growing backlog of refugee claims. “There are ripple effects,” he said.

For some Mexicans who can afford plane tickets, flying to Canada has become an alternative route to the United States, allowing them to avoid the smugglers who control the roads to the southern US border.

US immigration officials have seen a large increase in the number of migrants, including Mexicans, crossing into the United States from Canada, though far from the huge numbers at the southern border.

“But they are significant,” Mr Miller said. “And that’s something we have to manage as a partner with the U.S.”

Immigration has become a major issue in the United States ahead of the November election, and the Biden administration has made tightening the country’s borders a top political priority.

President Biden and Donald J. Trump, who will almost certainly be his Republican rival for the White House, was scheduled to appear Thursday in South Texas to discuss migration.

Mr. López Obrador told reporters on Thursday that his government respected Canada’s decision, but said Canada could have sought “other alternatives,” without offering details.

He also issued a “small, respectful, brotherly rebuke” to Mr. Trudeau, although he said his government’s response would be to “act with prudence, with calmness.”

Not all Mexicans will need a visa to travel to Canada. The rule excludes Mexicans who have held a Canadian visa in the past 10 years or if they currently hold a temporary US visa. Travelers in this category need an electronic travel authorization that is valid for up to five years.

Canada’s visa decision is the latest step in the country’s efforts to respond to asylum applications submitted from regular ports of entry, such as airports, and from unofficial border crossings.

In January, Canadian authorities also imposed restrictions on international students, doubling the savings threshold new applicants must have to qualify for a study permit after the surge raised concerns about housing pressure.

Following an agreement with the United States, Canada last year closed a popular land border crossing between New York state and Quebec called Roxham Road after a surge in migrants entering Canada there.

Some provincial leaders, including Francois Legault, Quebec’s premier, criticized the federal government’s response and said it should provide more financial aid to cover the cost of hosting thousands of migrants.

About half of Canada’s 290,000 asylum seekers are in Quebec, the province’s immigration minister said, and Quebec is asking the government for C$1 billion in aid.

Emiliano Rodriguez Mega contributed reporting from Mexico City.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *