The complexity of Canada’s VISA requirement for prospective visitors from Mexico, and the lack of comprehensive no-fee advice hurt the Canadian economy.
More than three years have passed since Canada instituted its VISA requirement for visitors from Mexico, yet the Canadian government has still not figured out a user-friendly way to enable Mexicans to visit Canada. As a result, travel from Mexico to Canada has suffered, with two major adverse impacts:
- Prospective Mexican tourists to Canada are either deferring or deciding on alternate vacation destinations, meaning less tourism dollars come into Canada than would otherwise be the case.
- At least one segment of international trade and commerce between Canada and Mexico is suffering, insofar as the flow of Mexican-made products available for retail sale in Canada is being impeded.
While in some respects bi-lateral Mexican – Canadian trade and commerce is improving, the VISA requirement reduces the overall positive impact and frustrates healthy international relations between Canada and Mexico.Nature of the VISA Application for Prospective Visitors from Mexico to Canada
The VISA requirement which Canada instituted July 16, 2009, for Mexicans wanting to either vacation in the country, or visit for the purpose of attending trade shows (and other business purposes) is extremely complicated to understand; even Canadians whose first language is English struggle to assist their Mexican friends. While one has a choice of sending the application by courier to Mexico City, Monterrey or Guadalajara for approval, or attending on one’s own at one of those offices, the point remains that the process is onerous and there is little if any comprehensive reliable assistance available in Mexico, except if a paid consultant is retained, or perhaps through a travel agent (i.e. if planning a package tour).
While the Canadian government publishes forms and instructions in different languages for VISA applicants in different countries, the length, detail and complexity is much more problematic than language. The online English instruction guide is 30 pages. On the Family Information Form one must list all children and siblings, regardless of whether or not they are accompanying the prospective traveler, and include date of birth, occupation, residence, marital status, and more. One must list in a schedule the last ten years of employment including from what month and year until what month and year, name, address and phone number of each employer, job title and monthly salary. In addition, documentation is required confirming income and assets, including home and vehicle title documents, pay slips, bank records.
Those who have ever held government jobs must disclose dates, level of government and positions held. If you’ve ever been a member of a political party or group or other organization, again disclosure is required with full particulars. Witnessing ill treatment of civilians requires disclosure.
It would appear that some of the foregoing is not required, but figuring out what is and is not mandatory is another story. It’s hard to find someone to provide guidance.
Applying for a Canadian VISA as a Resident of Oaxaca, Mexico
Visitors wishing to visit Canada for business, even for a couple of days, must comply with additional requirements than those entering for strictly vacation, or so it seems. But is an artisan from Oaxaca in south central Mexico on a business trip if visiting Vancouver for ten days and spending three of those days at a trade show demonstrating his craft and promoting Mexico? Does it make a difference if the invitation is extended by some branch of the Canadian government and financially supported in part by the government of Mexico?
Three times in two years I have struggled to find answers to such questions for friends from Oaxaca, and have come up empty. The consular agent of Canada in Oaxaca is not allowed to help because it’s not her mandate. Employees of the Mexican federal government agency which promotes international trade and commerce doesn’t have the skill set or authorization to assist, and the Oaxaca ministry of tourism and economic development provides incomplete information despite its best intentions.
Solution to the Canadian VISAS for Mexicans’ Conundrum
I don’t have the answers, although while I’m in Oaxaca I’m pleased to try to help those in need. But the best I can do is provide educated guesses, which can potentially result in an injustice for my Mexican friends wishing to travel to Canada. They can retain agents in Mexico City or further away from home, at a cost. But how much more money ought one to reasonably have to tack onto the cost of a trip to Canada?
Every state capital in Mexico should have a Canadian government office which provides no-charge assistance in completing the VISA application, and in facilitating the VISA granting process. A 30-page instruction guide, be it in English, French or Spanish, is not good enough. It confuses and it frustrates. The consular agent of Canada in Oaxaca is a part-time paid position. Why not have a second office with one additional part-time staff person dedicated to this new task?
The cost would be recovered tenfold or more through increased Mexican travel to Canada, while at the same time result in an enhanced perception of Canada and Canadians in the eyes of Mexico and Mexicans.