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Canada to require visas for Mexicans following surge in refugee claims

July 14, 2009 | 10:22 am

Mexican nationals will now need a visa to travel to Canada, that country's minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, announced Monday. Canada decided to stiffen the requirements due to what officials said has been a surge in claims for refugee status by Mexicans.

In a news release, Canadian immigration officials said that for the first 48 hours after the new rules go into effect today, Mexican citizens can apply for entry on arrival in Canada. But as of Thursday, a visa will be required:

Refugee claims from Mexico have almost tripled since 2005, making it the number one source country for claims. In 2008, more than 9,400 claims filed in Canada came from Mexican nationals, representing 25 per cent of all claims received. Of the Mexican claims reviewed and finalized in 2008 by the Immigration and Refugee Board, an independent administrative tribunal, only 11 per cent were accepted.

"In addition to creating significant delays and spiraling new costs in our refugee program, the sheer volume of these claims is undermining our ability to help people fleeing real persecution," said Minister Kenney. “All too often, people who really need Canada’s protection find themselves in a long line, waiting for months and sometimes years to have their claims heard. This is unacceptable.

"The visa requirement I am announcing will give us a greater ability to manage the flow of people into Canada and verify bona fides. By taking this important step towards reducing the burden on our refugee system, we will be better equipped to process genuine refugee claims faster."

For the last three years, Canada has seen an increase in immigration violations, according to the country's Citizenship and Immigration website. This includes Mexican nationals without proper travel documents and those not leaving Canada once their period of stay had expired.

Read the whole report here.

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

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