Monday, April 15, 2024

Canada imposes new visa rules for travellers from Mexico

Ottawa (Feb 29)- Mexicans who wish to travel to Canada will now require a visa Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced today. The new requirement which comes into effect at 11.30 am ET aims to reduce the number of asylum claimants from Mexico.

“As of February 29, 2024, at 11:30 p.m. Eastern time, Mexican citizens who hold a valid US non-immigrant visa or have held a Canadian visa in the past 10 years and are travelling by air on a Mexican passport will be able to apply for an electronic travel authorization (eTA),” IRCC announced in a news release.

Mexico is now among 15 countries whose citizens can to fly to Canada on an eTA, instead of a visa, if they meet certain requirements.

“With the high number of Mexican citizens currently holding US visas, the majority will continue to enjoy visa-free travel to Canada,” the statement from the immigration department continued. “Those who do not meet these conditions will need to apply for a Canadian visitor visa. This responds to an increase in asylum claims made by Mexican citizens that are refused, withdrawn or abandoned.”

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada says this is “an important step to preserve mobility for hundreds of thousands of Mexican citizens, while also ensuring the sound management of our immigration and asylum systems”.

The application process for Mexican citizens seeking a work or study permit will not change. Mexican citizens who want to work in Canada will continue to have access to a wide number of existing labour pathways, including the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program.

All eTAs issued to Mexican passports before 11:30 p.m. Eastern time on February 29, 2024, will no longer be valid—except for eTAs linked to Mexican passports with a valid Canadian work or study permit. Mexican citizens travelling to Canada without a valid work or study permit will need to apply for a visitor visa or reapply for a new eTA—if they are eligible.

Mexican citizens holding a valid work or study permit can still travel by air to Canada with their existing eTA as long as it remains valid, and they can continue to study or work in Canada based on the validity and conditions of their permit. Mexican visitors who are already in Canada on an eTA can stay for as long as they are authorized (up to six months from the date they arrive in Canada). However, if they plan to leave Canada and wish to return, they must have the proper travel documents (visa or new eTA).

Ottawa says it is expanding its network of visa application centres in Mexico to better serve travellers to Canada.

Asylum claims made by Mexican citizens reached a record high in 2023 at a time when Canada’s asylum system, housing and social services were already under significant pressure, according to IRCC. The majority of these claims (approximately 60%) were either rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, or withdrawn or abandoned by the applicant.

In 2023 alone, asylum claims from Mexican citizens accounted for 17% of all claims made that year from all nationalities around the world. The country’s asylum claim rate has risen significantly since the visa was first lifted in 2016 (from 260 claims in 2016 to 23,995 claims in 2023).

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