Ottawa speeds up visa process for Mexicans entering Canada

KIM MACKRAEL, THE GLOBE AND MAIL, Monday, May. 12 2014

Ottawa is taking steps to ease travel for some Mexican visitors to Canada, while keeping a controversial visa requirement in place that has contributed to strained relations between the two countries in recent years.

The move comes as Canada prepares to lift a separate visa restriction for travellers from Chile, according to a government source, a decision that is expected to add to Mexican officials’ frustrations. The Mexican government has been pressing Canada to remove its visa requirement for years, saying it could stand in the way of efforts to strengthen economic ties.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced on Monday that Mexicans who have travelled to Canada or the United States during the past 10 years will be allowed to apply for expedited visa processing. The government said a pilot of the new program, called CAN+, had an approval rate of more than 95 per cent, with visas issued in a week or less.

David Goldstein, president of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, said he would like to see the government allow Mexicans to travel to Canada without a visa, but called the decision to expedite the application process “the next best thing.”