Operational Bulletin 556 – November 14, 2013

Lifting of the visa requirement for citizens of the Czech Republic

Summary

The purpose of this Operational Bulletin is to provide information regarding the lifting of the temporary resident visa (TRV) requirement for citizens of the Czech Republic.

Background

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) outlines that all visitors to Canada require a TRV, except for cases prescribed by Section 190 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR). Visa requirements for travellers to Canada are the country’s first line of defence in maintaining the health, safety and security of Canadians. Canada’s visa policy decisions are based on an evidence-based assessment of the established visa review criteria and thresholds. The Czech Republic now meets Canada’s criteria for a TRV exemption.

Following the imposition of the visa requirement on the Czech Republic in July 2009, Canada has been closely monitoring country conditions and migration trends. This included sending a team of experts to the Czech Republic in 2011 to gather information in order to review the visa requirement.

The experts confirmed that the key concern in lifting the visa requirement for Czech citizens had been the potential increase in the number of non-genuine asylum claims. Since the visa requirement was imposed, Canada has reformed its asylum system. This included designating the Czech Republic as a Country of Origin, which means that asylum claims from Czech nationals are processed much more quickly and those with unfounded claims will be removed faster. It is anticipated that Canada’s reformed asylum system, along with the inclusion of the Czech Republic on the D Designated Countries of Origin (DCO) list, will provide Canada with better capacity to process any potential increase in asylum claims once the temporary resident visa exemption is in place.

Current Status

Effective November 14, 2013, paragraph 190(1)(a) of the IRPR was amended to create an exemption from the visa requirement for:

“citizens of the Czech Republic”.

Following the coming into force of the amendment to the IRPR, overseas offices should no longer process any TRV applications submitted by citizens of the Czech Republic.

Transitional Instructions

Where a citizen of the Czech Republic has:

  • not yet submitted a TRV application to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) by November 14, 2013, but is in possession of a receipt indicating that the fee has been paid at the bank or online (other than through e-Applications) – the applicant should seek a refund via standard procedures;
  • submitted a TRV application which has been received by CIC before November 14, 2013, (this includes applications submitted to a mission, via any visa application centre (VAC) or by e-Application) and where the fee has been processed, but the application is either not yet in process or is already in process but a final decision has not yet been made on the application – the passport and/or identity document shall be returned to the applicant; and the processing fee shall be refunded (no action required by the applicant); or
  • submitted a work or study permit application to CIC that has not been processed or finalized – the application will continue to be processed (no action required by the applicant).

Note: In cases where a TRV applicant has submitted an application via a VAC, the VAC service charge will not be refunded as the VAC has provided a service. Any TRV applications submitted by the applicant via a VAC will be returned to the applicant through that VAC.

Existing TRV holders (both single and multiple entry) who are citizens of the Czech Republic and have not yet travelled to Canada should be advised that they can continue with their travels as planned and leave the counterfoil in their passport.

Where a citizen of the Czech Republic holds a valid study and/or work permit on the coming into force of the regulation and:

  • they are outside of Canada, a TRV to return to Canada is not required and they may continue to use their study or work permits according to the validity dates of the permit; or
  • they are in Canada, the permit holder may remain in Canada and continue to work and/or study according to the validity dates of their permit.

In both instances, applicants must continue to meet the requirements of both the IRPA and the IRPR to enter or remain in Canada.

Port of Entry Instructions

Citizens of the Czech Republic no longer require a TRV to enter Canada. For persons who hold such a document and have a valid TRV, the counterfoil should not be cancelled.

Note: That while this amendment exempts citizens of the Czech Republic from the necessity of obtaining a TRV in advance of travel to Canada, citizens of the Czech Republic must continue to demonstrate that they meet all statutory and other requirements pertaining to entry into Canada and granting of the status of Temporary Resident.

Ongoing Service Channels

Citizens of the Czech Republic continue to have access to online applications or the VACs to submit study or work permit applications. Permanent Resident Travel Document applications can also be submitted through a VAC.

Citizens from other visa required countries residing in the Czech Republic, also continue to have the option to submit a TRV, study or work permit applications either online or through the VAC in Prague.

Date Modified: