Vol. 148, No. 25 — December 3, 2014
SOR/2014-267 November 21, 2014
IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE PROTECTION ACT
Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations
P.C. 2014-1270 November 20, 2014
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, pursuant to subsections 5(1) and 14(2) (see footnote a) and section 26 (see footnote b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (see footnote c), makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
REGULATIONS AMENDING THE IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE PROTECTION REGULATIONS
1. Paragraph 190(1)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (see footnote 1) is replaced by the following:
- (a) are a citizen of Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden or Switzerland;
COMING INTO FORCE
2. These Regulations come into force at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time on the day after the day on which they are registered.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
Issues: Citizens of Chile are currently required to apply for and obtain a temporary resident visa (TRV) before travelling to Canada. Following a review of its policy, it is determined that Chile meets Canada’s criteria for a TRV exemption. Citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis are currently exempt from the requirement to apply for and obtain a TRV before travelling to Canada. Following a review of its policy, it is determined that St. Kitts and Nevis no longer meets Canada’s criteria for a TRV exemption.
Description: The regulatory amendment will add Chile and remove St. Kitts and Nevis from the list of countries and territories whose citizens are exempt from the TRV requirement for travel to Canada under paragraph 190(1)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).
Cost-benefit statement: It is estimated that the regulatory amendment for Chile will generate a net financial cost due to transition costs (e.g. issuing operational bulletins, implementing systems changes), communication costs, and costs associated with a potential increase in asylum claims. The majority of the costs will be borne by the federal government, but if increased asylum claims do occur, provincial/territorial governments will also be affected. However, benefits of the TRV exemption are expected to outweigh the costs of the initiative, as visa-free travel will contribute to stronger business and personal ties between citizens of Canada and Chile. It will also increase Canada’s competitiveness in South America and bring economic benefits through increased tourism by visitors from Chile.
The regulatory amendment for St. Kitts and Nevis will incur costs related to the transition and communications needed to implement the new TRV requirement. The removal of the visa exemption for St. Kitts and Nevis is expected to have an impact on tourism as the number of travellers from the country could diminish upon implementation. However, this amendment will see Canada uphold its commitment to protect the safety and security of Canadians, along with its commitments to safeguard the North American perimeter. It will also likely generate savings due to the anticipated impact of a visa requirement on deterring asylum claims.
“One-for-One” Rule and small business lens: The “One-for-One” Rule and small business lens do not apply to this proposal. TRV requirements apply to individuals, so there is no administrative impact on business.
Domestic and international coordination and cooperation: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) works closely with other federal departments and agencies to ensure a balance between facilitating the travel of legitimate visitors, while protecting the safety and security of Canadians and the integrity of the immigration and asylum system.
CIC will work with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) to ensure travellers affected by the regulatory amendments are made aware of the change in visa requirements. For the removal of the visa exemption for St. Kitts and Nevis, special efforts will be made to inform affected travellers of the processes and options available to submit their visa applications.
Under the IRPR, all visitors to Canada require a TRV, with the exception of citizens of countries and territories who have been granted an exemption. Currently, citizens from 147 countries and territories require a TRV to travel to Canada, while citizens from 51 countries and territories have been granted an exemption.
A visa requirement is one of the instruments used to uphold the integrity of Canada’s immigration and asylum systems and protect the health, safety and security of Canadians. The visa enables a robust screening of individuals through the visa application process, prior to their arrival in Canada. Since TRV applicants must prove that they are admissible to Canada and will abide by the conditions of their stay, it is an effective deterrent for those who might seek or otherwise attempt to migrate irregularly to Canada. As well, by detecting and denying access to inadmissible individuals before they arrive in Canada, the visa is a highly effective tool in helping to prevent costs associated with investigations, enforcement actions and removals.
Canada’s TRV requirements are determined on a country-by-country basis and based on established visa review criteria and thresholds. Criteria include, among other things, a country’s socio-economic conditions, immigration violation rates, asylum claim rates, travel document integrity considerations as well as safety and security issues. In order to gather information and make decisions on visa policy, CIC conducts ongoing monitoring of country conditions and migration trends to determine if a change in visa policy is warranted.
Countries are granted visa exemptions when CIC, in consultation with federal partners, assesses that on balance, their citizens pose a sufficiently low risk so as to not require the in-depth screening that is conducted during the visa application process. Currently, travellers from visa-exempt countries are generally screened against immigration and enforcement databases while en route to Canada and/or upon arrival at a port of entry.
To enhance the pre-arrival screening of visa-exempt travellers, Canada is planning to introduce the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) system in 2015. The new eTA requirement would mean that foreign nationals who are exempt from the TRV requirement would need to apply for an eTA, and therefore be screened, before their arrival in the air mode. CIC solicited input on the proposed eTA system in summer 2014 and is now considering stakeholder comments in advance of final publication. For more information on the eTA, please visit www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2014/2014-06-21/html/reg1-eng.php.
Prior to the regulatory amendment, citizens of Chile needed a TRV for travel to Canada. Canada had exempted citizens of Chile from the TRV requirement in February 1995, but the number of asylum claims made by Chilean citizens in Canada increased significantly in the aftermath, and Canada re-imposed the TRV requirement in June 1996.
In December 2012, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act (PCISA) introduced a series of reforms that seek to deter and address non-genuine asylum claims. For example, the Government of Canada now has the capability to identify Designated Countries of Origin (DCO), which are countries that do not normally produce refugees, but that do respect human rights and offer state protection. Designating these countries as DCOs allows Canada to process asylum claimants more quickly and shorten the time frames to deport non-genuine claimants, which in turn helps to deter abuse of Canada’s asylum system. Claimants from DCO countries also do not have the right to appeal a negative decision to the Refugee Appeals Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board. Chile was added to Canada’s DCO list on May 31, 2013.
St. Kitts and Nevis
As members of the Commonwealth, citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis have been exempt from the requirement to obtain a TRV for travel to Canada since the country’s independence in 1983. In 1984, St. Kitts and Nevis launched its Citizenship-by-Investment Program, which allows third-country nationals to acquire St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship in return for an investment in specified sectors of the economy, such as real estate. St. Kitts and Nevis actively markets this program on the basis that the country’s passport provides visa-free travel status to over 120 countries and territories, including Canada.
Following a review of the visa requirement, which includes a detailed assessment of country conditions and migration trends from Chile, CIC has determined Chile now satisfies Canada’s criteria for Chilean nationals to be granted an exemption from the TRV requirement.
In recent years, temporary migration from Chile has demonstrated itself to be low risk, as Chilean travellers do not exhibit any serious irregular migration behaviour and do, in the majority of cases, abide by the conditions of their stay in Canada. In addition, Chile’s socio-economic conditions have improved since 1995, which, coupled with changes made to Canada’s asylum system, are expected to help to deter any potential Chilean irregular migration to Canada. The Government of Chile has put in place effective law enforcement, border and identity management practices, including exit and entry controls, which further reduce the risk of irregular migration. CIC therefore assesses that the risk of a significant increase in claims or irregular immigration is low, and that the benefits resulting from the visa exemption in terms of expected tourism-related revenue, improved bilateral relations, and enhanced business and people-to-people ties would outweigh any potential costs.
St. Kitts and Nevis
CIC, in consultation with Canadian federal partners, has determined that St. Kitts and Nevis no longer meets Canada’s visa policy criteria for a visa exemption. Failure to satisfy the criteria is due in large part to risks stemming from the country’s Citizenship-by-Investment Program. Evidence indicates that third-country nationals, who may be of concern to Canada, are exploiting the country’s Citizenship-by-Investment Program in order to obtain passports that allow them to circumvent the security screening that would normally be conducted through Canada’s visa application process. Although St. Kitts and Nevis is in the process of implementing reforms to its Citizenship-by-Investment Program, CIC and federal partners assess that the risk to Canada and Canadian interests posed by the existing pool of third-country national passport holders is significant and therefore warrants the removal of St. Kitts and Nevis’ visa exemption.
As Chile now meets Canada’s criteria for a visa exemption, this regulatory amendment will support Canada’s objectives of improving political, trade, economic and cultural relations with Chile and potentially increase tourism to Canada.
St. Kitts and Nevis
As St. Kitts and Nevis no longer meets Canada’s criteria for a visa exemption, this regulatory amendment will help protect the safety and security of Canadians and uphold Canada’s commitment in helping to secure the North American perimeter while mitigating the impact to legitimate travellers from St. Kitts and Nevis.
This regulatory amendment adds Chile to, and removes St. Kitts and Nevis from, the list of countries and territories whose citizens are exempt from the TRV requirement for travel to Canada under paragraph 190(1)(a) of the IRPR.
Regulatory and non-regulatory options considered
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act requires that TRV exemptions or requirements be prescribed in regulation. Currently, there are no alternatives to amending the Regulations in order to add or remove a particular country, from the current list of countries, whose citizens are exempt from the TRV requirement.
Benefits and costs
It is estimated that the regulatory amendment will generate an overall financial net cost to the Government of Canada; however, these costs are expected to be outweighed by both the quantitative and qualitative benefits to Canada and Canadian interests.
Costs that are expected to be incurred would be attributable to the resources required for the Government of Canada to transition to the exemption for the TRV, including the publication of operational bulletins and the updating of Web pages. Costs are also assumed related to communicating the regulatory amendment. Moreover, Canada may incur costs for the federal and provincial/territorial governments to manage any increase in asylum claimants coming from Chile who may seek to exploit their new visa-free status in an attempt to migrate to Canada permanently. These include costs for the federal government to process the claims themselves, at ports of entry and inland, costs for removals of failed asylum claimants, as well as costs to provinces/territories related to legal aid, education and social assistance. However, the risk of any substantial increase in asylum claims is assessed as being low. It is also anticipated that there may be impacts on the business operations of the Visa Application Centre (VAC) in Santiago, Chile, given that Chilean visitors to Canada will no longer need to apply for a visitor’s visa through the VAC.
This regulatory amendment is also expected to bring about significant benefits consistent with Government of Canada priorities. Indeed, the visa exemption will improve Canada’s overall competitiveness as a tourism destination, as well as encourage the growth of air travel between the two countries. Chilean tourists are expected to see Canada as a more accessible vacation destination.
The visa exemption is expected to enhance cooperation between Canada and Chile and will facilitate both business and personal contacts between the two countries, including the Chilean diaspora in Canada.
St. Kitts and Nevis
This regulatory amendment is expected to generate minor costs to the Government of Canada.
The Government of Canada will incur some costs related to implementing this regulatory amendment, such as informing travellers from St. Kitts and Nevis of the new TRV requirement and the services available for them to make their visa applications. Costs will also include implementing the operational and systems changes needed to process new visa applicants. The removal of the visa exemption is also expected to have some impact on tourist travel to Canada, as a certain proportion of prospective travellers may be deterred by the new administrative and financial requirements of having to obtain a visa before travel. The impact, however, is expected to be minimal as Canada receives approximately 800 visitors from St. Kitts and Nevis annually. Moreover, the impact of the new visa requirement on travel by legitimate travellers will be mitigated through the issuance of multiple-entry visas, allowing visa holders the opportunity of repeat trips to Canada for stays of up to six months at a time over a 10-year period. St. Kitts and Nevis issues passports valid for up to 10 years; therefore, its citizens are well placed to benefit from this travel facilitation tool.
Finally, the amendment will also result in savings due to the deterrent effect the visa requirement will have in dissuading inadmissible individuals from attempting to enter Canada. Moreover, the visa requirement may also deter persons from filing non-genuine asylum claims.
The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this amendment, as there is no change in administrative costs to business.
Small business lens
The small business lens does not apply as there are no costs imposed on small business through the regulatory amendment.
Comments and input were sought and received from other government departments and agencies for the proposed regulatory amendments for both Chile and St. Kitts and Nevis: DFATD, Public Safety Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Industry Canada and Transport Canada.
This regulatory amendment will further encourage the travel of Chilean visitors to Canada. Canada’s Federal Tourism Strategy is a whole-of-government approach positioning Canada’s tourism sector to take advantage of international growth opportunities, increase tourism revenues and create jobs in Canada.
The visa exemption for Chile is therefore expected to help support two Federal Tourism Strategy priorities: increasing awareness of Canada as a premier tourist destination and facilitating ease of access and movement for travellers while protecting the safety and integrity of Canada’s borders.
The regulatory amendment is expected to bring about strengthened business and social ties between Canada and Chile, and strengthen Canada’s foreign relations with Chile. It will also bring about economic advantages through enhancing Canada’s competitiveness in the tourism and travel markets, thus supporting the Federal Tourism Strategy. Since Chilean travellers have been assessed as being low risk, their exemption from the TRV requirement will allow Canada to focus resources for visa screening on higher risk populations.
St. Kitts and Nevis
The regulatory amendment will allow Canada to conduct thorough, pre-departure visa screening to identify and deny any inadmissible St. Kitts and Nevis passport holders before they travel to Canada. This not only reduces the risk to Canadians that travellers of concern may attempt to exploit their visa-free status in order to gain access to Canada without undergoing the required screening, but also bolsters Canada’s reputation as a reliable partner in safeguarding the North American perimeter.
The visa screening process allows for a more thorough check of an individual’s background; for example, a visa officer can request an applicant’s birth certificate before they make a decision, whereas a Border Services Officer at a Canadian port of entry must normally make a decision with only the identity documents available at the time of entry to Canada, which is usually just the traveller’s passport, to support their interaction. Furthermore, the removal of the visa exemption will not only function as a security screening tool, but will also serve as a deterrent against mala fide individuals from applying for a TRV in the first place.
Implementation, enforcement and service standards
The Regulations will come into force at 12 p.m. Eastern Time on the day after the day on which they are registered.
At 12 p.m. Eastern Time on the day after the day on which the Regulations are registered, Chilean passport holders will no longer be required to apply in advance for, or present upon arriving, a TRV to enter Canada. Travellers will be screened for admissibility by Canadian Border Services Officers at ports of entry.
The introduction of a visa exemption will not remove the requirement for Chilean passport holders to undergo a medical examination for stays in Canada of six months or more, or to apply in advance for permits to work or study in Canada.
Canada will work with Chilean authorities to further enhance cooperation on migration integrity and law enforcement issues, including addressing any risk of non-genuine asylum claims that may come from Chile, should this occur. Should this exemption create unforeseen results, a re-imposition of the visa requirement could be considered.
St. Kitts and Nevis
At 12 p.m. Eastern Time on the day after the day on which the Regulations are registered, St. Kitts and Nevis passport holders will be required to apply in advance for, and present upon arriving, a TRV to enter Canada. Travellers will be further screened for admissibility by Canadian Border Services Officers at ports of entry.
Visa processing operations at the Canadian visa office and the VAC in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago will begin to serve citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The impact of the new visa requirement on travellers from St. Kitts and Nevis will be mitigated through the issuance of multiple-entry visas, allowing visa holders the opportunity of repeat trips to Canada for stays of up to six months at a time over a 10-year period as St. Kitts and Nevis issues passports valid for up to 10 years. Citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis in possession of a valid work or study permit will continue to receive a TRV, as per the Regulations.
CIC, in conjunction with federal partners, will assess the impacts of this proposal through ongoing monitoring of country conditions and trends.
Document and Visa Policy
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
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