New York - Canada is about to scrap its controversial visa requirements for Mexican visitors.
As of December 1, Mexicans will no longer need a visa to visit Canada and are only required to have an Electronic Travel Authorisation, which can be applied for online and costs CAD $7 (about R100).
The move provides a stark contrast to proposed policies from the US president-elect Donald Trump, who has said he will immediately deport between two and three million illegal immigrants and will build a wall along the US-Mexican border. He said after he was elected that some parts of the wall would be a fence instead.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement to lift the need for a visa in June as he stood beside Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
“This move will make it easier for our Mexican friends to visit Canada while growing our local economies and strengthening our communities,” Mr Trudeau said. Now Mexicans just apply for an ETA online with a valid passport, credit card and an email address.
The Canadian immigration website promises that the form just takes a few minutes to complete, and can take between a few minutes and a few days to process. Visa restrictions were introduced by the previous Conservative government in 2009 to stop thousands of Mexicans seeking asylum, a move that has created tension between the two countries.
While the Conservative opposition has argued the visas should not be lifted until its full impact can be assessed – they say the rate of Mexican nationals seeking asylum has dropped from 25 percent in 2008 to below one percent over the last four years – Mr Trudeau’s Liberal party promised to remove the restrictions.
Mr Trump has vowed to stop Mexicans, who he said were “murderers”, “rapists” and “drug dealers”, from coming to the US.
Within minutes of Mr Trump being elected, the Canadian immigration website crashed.