According to a press release issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) late last year, the Czech Republic now meets the Canadian criteria for visa exemption. The new designation means that Czech nationals will no longer require a visitor visa, aka Temporary Resident Visa, to visit Canada, and may remain for up to six months. The current list of countries, territories, and passport holders who are exempt from visa requirements stands at more than 60 specific categories. A complete list of visa exempt countries can be found here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp
The default position of Canadian immigration law is that all visitors to Canada require a visa, unless they are nationals of a country exempted under Canadian regulation. The recent Czech exemption was based on a policy review that determined the Czech Republic now meets requisite social and economic criteria. Among the criteria that are evaluated in making such a determination are a country’s asylum rates, the integrity of travel documents, safety and security concerns, border management, and relations between Canada and the country of origin. CIC indicates that the new designation is also, in part, due to improvements to Canada’s asylum system aimed at deterring unfounded claims for asylum.
Since the restriction began in 2009 claims for asylum have dropped from 2,200 to only 70 per year. One concern remains the Czech Roma population, which human rights groups contend are subjected to discrimination in much of Eastern Europe.
This move also comes on the heels of an agreement between Canada and the European Union (EU) on free trade. The agreement still requires final approval of the EU’s 28 member countries, some of which are hostile to Canada’s visa restrictions.
Canada implemented a new asylum system in 2012 aimed at reducing refugee claims, as well as deterring abuse of the system. Among these measures is an implementation of a Designated Country of Origin (DCO) scheme, of which the Czech Republic is a member. According to data provided by CIC, 93 percent of all DCO claims that have been made under the new system have been rejected, abandoned, or withdrawn. While individuals with rejected claims may still appeal to the Federal Court, they do not have access to the Refugee Appeal Division. In addition, there is no automatic stay of removal for DCO claimants while their appeal is pending, but they still may petition the court for a judicial stay of removal.
As the Canadian immigration system changes, it is advisable for those seeking entry to Canada to consult with a Canadian immigration lawyer. Our Canadian immigration law firm can advise you of your options and assist in the preparation of any application or petition to be presented on your behalf. In addition, retaining legal representation in the event you are required to appear before any judicial or administrative body can be extremely beneficial in ensuring that you obtain a favorable outcome.
To schedule a free consultation with a Canadian immigration lawyer, contact First Immigration Law Firm toll-free in North America @ 1 (855) 360-4333 or 1 (514) 360-4333 internationally.