Reinstatement of visas for some Mexicans headaches and disillusionment on

Reinstatement of visas for some Mexicans: headaches and disillusionment on the menu

The reintroduction of visas for a large proportion of Mexicans coming to Canada is causing a major headache for both Mexican citizens who had plans to settle in the country and the immigration specialists responsible for facilitating their arrival.

Talk to Lorraine Cloutier, married to the Mexican Yoav Medrano Arredondo since March 3, 2023.

We were supposed to fly to London this Sunday for our first wedding anniversary but we have to cancel and Air Transat is not offering a refund or credit. “It’s really annoying,” says this Shawinigan resident.

According to the government's announcement, the deadline to apply for the visitor visa needed for her husband to return to Canada was too short. According to Ms. Cloutier, applying for this visa typically takes four to six weeks and there are no exceptions for emergencies. On her husband's side, the reasons for stress are different.

If my father or mother dies tomorrow, I won't be able to go to their funeral in Mexico as I now need a visa to come back here to Canada.

The couple is also awaiting a response to the sponsorship application filed in April 2023, which would allow the husband to work while he waits for his permanent residency to be granted. However, the processing times have already been significantly exceeded.

This announcement was like a bomb dropped just before spring break, admits the young woman, who is sure that she is not the only one in this situation.

Avoid an influx at the border

It is certain that many people will be affected, confirms Stéphanie Valois, immigration lawyer. The government's calculation in such cases is to issue a last-minute warning to prevent an influx of people arriving before the border is closed or visas are reintroduced, she specifies.

Stéphanie Valois, lawyer specializing in refugee law.

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Stéphanie Valois, lawyer specializing in refugee law

Photo: Radio-Canada

Earlier this week, the Trudeau government reinstated visa requirements for Mexican visitors, seven years after allowing them to move freely in Canada to curb certain abuses.

The record number of asylum seekers, the presence of members of criminal networks and smugglers in Canada, and the proliferation of forged travel documents are among the reasons Ottawa cites to justify reintroducing entry visas for Mexicans.

In his announcement Thursday, Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller said that in 2023, 17% of all asylum seekers will be Mexican and that most of their applications have either been rejected or withdrawn by the applicants themselves.

“As a government, we have to be sensible and take action,” added Mr. Miller, indirectly responding to complaints from several provincial governments, including Quebec's. From 6,340 before the pandemic, the number of Mexican asylum seekers in Canada increased to 23,190 in 2023.

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It is a political decision that can be made for completely legitimate reasons. Unfortunately, Ms. Valois replies that it is part of an extremely problematic discourse towards refugees and immigrants.

It is too easy to blame them for the problems in schools and housing.

When we talk about refugees, we often think of people living in camps, fleeing war, or political refugees, but the definition is broader. Religion, race, nationality or membership of a social group are also taken into account, explains the lawyer.

She thinks not only of members of the LGBTQ+ community, but also of journalists and human rights defenders who may be persecuted in their countries.

Exceptions provided, but…

However, several categories of nationals are exempt from the visa measure: Mexicans who have already obtained a visa in Canada or the United States in the last decade, and those who come to Canada to study or work, especially agricultural workers.

But the situation becomes complicated for them too, as they have to obtain an electronic travel authorization (eTA). They can no longer have their driving license handed out upon arrival in the country or at the airport as before, emphasizes Ms. Valois. Everything will have to be done [au préalable] at the embassy. And when it comes to embassies abroad, the deadlines are difficult to estimate, she emphasizes.

She states that the Canadian embassy in Mexico already handles all requests from Haiti, the Caribbean and Central America and that processing times could explode if additional staff were not hired.

With information from Gabrielle Proulx