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Increase in Mexican refugee claimants
Since 2005, the number of Mexican refugee claimants has almost tripled from about 3,400 in 2005 to more than 9,400 in 2008 when Mexicans accounted for more than 25 percent of all refugee claims filed in Canada. The trend has continued in the first half of this year, with over 5,500 claims received up to June 30, compared with approximately 3,700 for the same period a year ago.
Refugee claims are assessed by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), an independent administrative tribunal. In 2008, the IRB reviewed and completed 5,654 Mexican refugee claims of which 606 were accepted. This represents an overall acceptance rate of 11 percent for Mexican refugee claims. In 2009, the number of claims has increased, while the acceptance rate has decreased further still.
As of March 31, 2009, 22% of the claims pending before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada were from Mexican nationals.
Impact of the visa requirement on travellers from Mexico
The visa requirement means that Mexican nationals who want to come to Canada to visit, study, or work will first need to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa and meet the requirements to receive one.
The visa requirement comes into effect at 12:01 a.m. EDT on July 14, 2009 (11:01 p.m. CDT Mexico City local time on July 13, 2009), but for the first 48 hours, Mexican citizens may apply for entry on arrival in Canada free of charge.
After 11:59 p.m. EDT on July 15, 2009 (10:59 p.m. CDT Mexico City local time), Mexican citizens will need to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa, prior to travel, by sending an application to the Embassy of Canada in Mexico City.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is working quickly to ramp up capacity at the Embassy of Canada in Mexico City. Additional staff have been brought in to process applications.
The Government of Canada recognizes that Mexican seasonal agricultural workers are an important source of labour for Canadian farmers. The Government of Canada also recognizes that, in a time of global economic uncertainty, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program provides many Canadian businesses with the employees they need to remain competitive, while at the same time providing an opportunity for many Mexicans to support their family with income earned in Canada, and we will take steps to ensure that the flow of foreign workers is not disrupted.
In an effort to increase access and service to applicants, the Government of Canada will contract with third-party visa service providers, also known as Visa Application Centres (VACs). Calls for Proposals are being sent out today which invite suppliers to submit proposals to the Government of Canada. It is expected that the first VAC should be operating in about three months, with another two in six months.
Mexico was the last Latin American country for which Canada did not require a Temporary Resident Visa. The requirement is in line with the U.S., which has had a long-standing visa policy on Mexico.
How applicants may apply for a visa
The process for applying for a Temporary Resident Visa is available on the website of the Embassy of Canada in Mexico: www.canada.org.mx.
Once an applicant has completed the application and included all necessary documents, such as their passport, they may mail or courier the application, along with a pre-paid airway bill (return registered mail), to the Embassy of Canada in Mexico City.
To facilitate travel, applicants may apply for a multiple-entry visa which is valid for up to five years.
If anyone has an urgent need to travel to Canada, they are asked to visit the Embassy’s website and download the Emergency Processing Request Form and attach it to the top of their application package. They must state why their need for travel is urgent and include any documents to support their reason.
Visa applicants must demonstrate their visit to Canada is temporary, they will not overstay their time in Canada, they have enough money to cover their stay in Canada, they are in good health, they do not have a criminal record, and are not a security risk to Canadians. These requirements are the same for anyone who wants to visit Canada.
If an interview is necessary, applicants will be contacted by the Embassy and an appointment will be provided. Applicants are encouraged to send their applications by courier or registered mail and to avoid visiting the Embassy unless specifically invited for an interview.
Applicants are asked to avoid calling, faxing, emailing or visiting the Embassy to enquire about their applications.
For recorded information, people in Mexico may call 01-800-226-2320. Individuals in Canada may contact CIC’s Call Centre.
Mexican citizens who are outside the Mexico or who will be visiting another country en route to Canada, may apply for a Temporary Resident Visa at the Canadian visa office nearest to them. The list of Canadian visa offices abroad may be found at: www.cic.gc.ca.
Visit CIC’s website to view Frequently Asked Questions.
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