News Release – Canada imposes a visa on the Czech Republic

Ottawa, July 13, 2009 —Beginning 12:01 a.m. EDT on July 14, 2009, Czech nationals will require a visa to travel to Canada, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today. For the first 48 hours, Czech citizens may apply for entry on arrival in Canada. After 11:59 p.m. EDT July 15, 2009, a visa will be required.

Since the visa requirement was lifted on the Czech Republic in October 2007, nearly 3,000 claims have been filed by Czech nationals, compared with less than five in 2006. The Czech Republic is now the second top source country for refugee claims. The relatively higher acceptance rate of refugee claims originating in the Czech Republic masks the troubling fact that more than half of the claims are abandoned or withdrawn before a final decision is made by the Immigration and Refugee Board, indicating that many claimants may not be genuine refugees.

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.

The visa process will allow us to assess who is coming to Canada as a legitimate visitor and who might be trying to use the refugee system to jump the immigration queue,” Minister Kenney said. “It is not fair for those who have been waiting patiently to come to Canada, sometimes for years, when others succeed in bypassing our immigration system.

Canada regularly reviews its visa policies toward other countries. Countries are aware that if they do not satisfy the conditions of a visa-exemption, a visa may be imposed.

This change means that nationals from the Czech Republic who want to travel to Canada will first need to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa and meet the requirements to receive one. It is up to the applicant to satisfy the visa officer their visit to Canada is temporary, they will not overstay their approved 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.

Applicants from the Czech Republic will submit their applications to the Canadian visa office in Vienna, Austria which currently serves nationals from several other European countries.

“Canada has strong ties with the Czech Republic,” said Minister Kenney. “We continue to welcome all genuine travellers to Canada from this country.”

For further information (media only), please contact:

Media Relations Unit
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
CIC-Media-Relations@cic.gc.ca

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