BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, June 27. 2018 – COMMENCING in December, 2018 Caribbean people who wish to travel to Canada will no longer be able to acquire a visa online but will, instead, have to travel to Trinidad to the Canadian Embassy there to be fingerprinted and photographed.
Premier of Nevis the Hon. Mark Brantley made the announcement yesterday (June 25) at his monthly press conference.
Brantley stated that the requirement of a Canadian Visa began following an incident which he referred to as a “breakdown in diplomacy” in 2014 and ever since his Unity government took office, they have been having discussions to rectify the need for a visa to travel to Canada.
“From time immemorial, the people of St. Kitts and Nevis were allowed to travel to Canada without letter or hindrance. There was no need for any visa and then in 2014, in what I would call a breakdown of Diplomacy we had a situation where Canada decided to impose these new requirements.
“A new government is elected in Canada shortly thereafter, a new government is elected here in St. Kitts and Nevis shortly thereafter and both new governments, the liberal government in Canada and the Unity government here, have been engaging at various levels,” he told the members of the press.
Brantley explained that the Unity Government was of the view that they were making headway towards an understanding with the Canadian Government with regards to the visa issue but due to the repositioning of Cabinet members on Canada’s part, they had to restart the negotiation process.
The Premier further explained that he was fortunate enough to meet with the new Minister of Immigration and had a “good conversation with him” as well as other members of the government and other parliamentarians.
“We really made a case as to why St. Kitts and Nevis should again, have the opportunity to go to Canada without visas,” he said.
Brantley told the media that Canada had announced that commencing December, 2018 anyone requesting a Canadian visa would no longer be able to apply online but would instead, have to travel to Trinidad to the Embassy there to be fingerprinted etc.
He stated that that is a matter that has raised concerns because the airfare to Trinidad is costly which would mean that many people would not be able to afford the visa. He further said that even after gathering funds to make the Trinidad trip, there is still no guarantee of a visa.
He added that the argument they put forward to the Canadian government is that they were pricing the visas out of the reach of most of the people of St. Kitts and Nevis which meant that Canada would be off of the citizens’ list of places to travel to.
“I think the Canadian government is very sensitive to that. We have discussed a number of options with them including having a mobile unit that would come to the various territories to seek to collect the biometrics here and one other option they were considering is if they could set up a biometrics centre in some place that’s closer than Trinidad.
Brantley said that the Unity Government has offered St. Kitts and Nevis to have a biometrics centre set up here. He noted that it is for the Canadian government to consider and the response so far looks positive.
He however suggested that citizens take advantage of the opportunity to apply for a Canadian visa online while that window is still open.
The need for a Canadan visa was set in motion in 2014 following a incident where an Iranian businessman arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport with a diplomatic passport from St. Kitts and Nevis in 2013.
Alizera Moghadam, told them he had bought the passport from the St. Kitts and Nevis government for $1 million (U.S.), that he was on official diplomatic business and that he was to meet with the then Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
After months of investigations and the news reaching the media all over the world, Canada’s government made the decision to enforce the need for a visa to enter country.