Canada's visa stencil and its perspectives for Ukraine

Author : Volodymyr Kravchenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

Although Justin Trudeau wears Ukrainian embroidered shirt on the occasion of Vyshyvanka Day, the Liberal cabinet is less consistent in its support of Ukraine than the Conservative government.. Read the story.
16:30, 4 July 2016

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Canadian authorities were recalled of an old problem - visas for Ukrainian citizens. At the beginning of June, the Canadian Secretariat registered a private e-petition on cancelation of visas for Ukrainian citizens traveling for short trips. Justin Trudeau’s cabinet is required to give an answer on this petition within 45 days. For Canadians, piquancy of the situation lies in the fact that the Prime Minister has to voice the position in early July, during his visit to Ukraine. However, it is unlikely that the answer would be positive. Ottawa does not confuse friendship to Kyiv and the strict visa policy towards Ukrainian citizens. Counsellor of the Embassy of Ukraine in Canada Marko Shevchenko noted that "e-petition is one of the attempts to fix the problem. This is a signal to the Canadian government that the problem does exist, and it must be resolved."

Lindsay Wemp, spokesperson for the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, noted that in 2014, 16,368 Ukrainian citizens have applied for a Canadian visa, 71% of them received positive answer, and in 2015, to 69% (from 15,825 people) were issued Canadian visas. In other words, during the last two years, three out of ten Ukrainian have been receiving a refusal.

Related: Ukraine and Canada agreed on cooperation agreement in field of defense, - source

Allegedly, this year the situation is slightly improved: in January-March 2015, two out of five citizens of Ukraine (39%) did not receive the visas, and in the first quarter of 2016, only one out of five (18%) was refused. Ministry of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada lists the reasons why our compatriots are denied a visa. In particular, these are safety reasons; links with organized crime or criminal record of the applicant; the state of health; financial reasons; false information in the application; failure to comply with Canadian law on immigration and refugee protection.

Related: Canada Prime Minister to visit Ukraine on July 11-12

However, the above reasons affect the decisions of many embassies, including the European ones. Nevertheless, the number of the Canadian visa denials is impressive; it is much higher than in the offices of the EU members’ countries.

For example, in 2014, 9.5% of Ukrainians did not receive visas from the Embassy of Belgium, and in 2015, Embassy of the Netherlands refused 7.2% of Ukrainians. According to the NGO "Europe without barriers," in 2014 only 2% of our compatriots have not received the European visas, and in 2015 there were 3,4% of such people.

Related: Kubiv: Ukraine can get to Canada market

12% of Ukrainians who applied for a visa of the United Kingdom were rejected, and in 2015, their number rose to 19%. "Visa screening" of the United States seems to be even tougher: in 2014, 27.7% of the requests were banned, and in 2015, 34% of Ukrainian applicants were refused. However, the US recently liberalized visa procedures for our countrymen in terms of multiple entry visas for up to ten years; so did Canada. But the problem remains unsolved for Ukrainians. Sometimes Canadian consulate does not issue the visas even for the relatives of the Ukrainian diplomats.

The citizens of the EU countries do not need a visa to travel to Canada. But this rule does not apply to residents of Romania and Bulgaria. Canadian government concludes that many Romanians and Bulgarians just want to get refugee status.

Related: Ukraine and Canada to sign Free Trade Agreement during Trudeau visit

Consideration of these requests is a continued procedure. The refugee status applicants are allowed to live long in Canada, in fact, they are like economic migrants. It is almost impossible to deport those people, even if the Canadian authorities refuse to grant the refugee status. In 2009, it forced Ottawa to cancel the visa-free regime with Mexico.

Related: Canada's PM and 5 federal ministers wear traditional Ukrainian vyshyvankas

At first glance, Canadian Liberal cabinet seems to be traditionally pro-Ukrainian. Although Justin Trudeau wears an embroidered shirt, the Liberal cabinet is less consistent in its support of Ukraine than the Conservative government. And the position of the current Foreign Minister Stephane Dion is fundamentally different from the position of his predecessor. The current head of the Canadian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly stressed on the need to resume the dialogue and cooperation with Russia.

Related: Canada cancels sanctions against Belarus

Minister Dion says that failure to cooperate with Russia through diplomatic and political channels prevents Canada from supporting Ukraine. For example, the head of the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls for Syria, where Ottawa's reluctance to communicate with Moscow significantly reduced the impact of Canada on the course of peaceful consultation.

Many Canadian businessmen have their interests in Russia. And we might assume that they conduct some unofficial negotiations with the government. So does Ukrainian diaspora.

Related: Ukraine, Canada and the UK to perform air surveillance over Russia

Ukrainian diaspora in Canada is big in number, but its influence on the government policy should not be exaggerated. None of the Canadian Minister would be a minister of one ethnic group.

Obviously, the visa-free regime in our country is not granted overnight. Much depends on the Ukrainian security sector reform and the economy, and how our country adheres to human rights.

Related: Canada expanded sanctions against Russia

However, even the mere appearance of electronic petitions as an initiative of the Liberal Party branch in Saskatchewan, which has proposed a draft resolution on the abolition of visa regime for Ukraine, indicates that the issue of the short-stay visas to Ukrainians is something very significant for Canada. 

Related: Canada allocated USD 3 mln for Donbas farmers

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