New Border Boundaries: Canada’s New Visa Requirements for Mexican Travelers

By: Constanza Leautaud Grajales

Edited by: Natalie Cowan

As of 11:30 p.m. (ET) on February 29th, 2024, new air travel requirements will be enacted for Mexican citizens traveling to Canada. The new requirements demand eligibility for an electronic travel authorization (eTA) or application for a visitor visa. For Mexican visitors who had applied for or obtained an eTA before February 29, it was automatically canceled. Regardless of whether the visitor had pre-paid flights, accommodations, or a valid eTA before that time, a new eTA will now have to be drafted. Not to mention that acquiring an eTA before this time did not guarantee the acquisition of a new eTA nor a visa. 

Why was this new requirement set into place? According to the Canadian Government, this is a response to the record-high asylum claims made by Mexican citizens that are usually withdrawn, refused, or abandoned altogether. This visa requirement, however, is nothing new. Looking back at the Canadian-Mexican travel requirement and restrictions, the visa requirement was lifted at the end of 2016 to ease asylum claims from Mexican citizens after the Conservative Prime MinisterStephen Harper’s government was the first to impose the visa requirement in 2009. Marc Miller, the Canadian Immigration Minister, claimed that the action was to “boost business ties” and “improve trade” between the North American countries, which enriched Canadian culture greatly.  

 Mr. Miller reportedly said, “I don’t want to deny the right of someone to allege that they are fleeing violence and oppression … When you see those numbers, you see we have a role to play in adjusting the volume”. If it is acknowledged, then, that these asylum claims are justified due to the threat of violence and unsafe environment–why take this lifeline away? The Mexican Foreign Affairs Department has expressed resentment, saying there could have been a less restrictive solution to the high asylum claims. Mexico’s proposed diplomatic response was rather to “send two high-level missions to Canada in recent weeks to reiterate the importance of protecting people who are victims of fraud, trafficking, smuggling and disinformation” in a safer, close-proximity country which clearly benefits culturally and economically from this immigration system. 

This restriction will not only affect incoming Mexican travelers, but also immigrant Mexican families who either reside permanently in Canada or have obtained their citizenship, since their families will now need a visa to enter the country. This will also affect visitors who planned their trips accordingly, with this reinstated requirement preventing them from entering the country, no matter their pre-paid plans. The tourist sector will be impacted from this new restriction, which already is nursing deep wounds from pandemic-era travel restrictions. The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) said that these new “visa requirement changes are already having an immediate financial impact on tourism businesses… as many visitors with pre-booked travel in the next 30 to 60 days may be unable to obtain the required visa in time,” and people who were expecting to travel to Canada before the restriction will most likely cancel their trips altogether. This will impact the economy greatly since the tourist sector brings large amounts of money into the country. This is shown just last year in which Mexican tourists spent around $754 million in Canada, with 595,537 Mexican nationals visiting. 

For those affected Mexican-Canadian residents and citizens who wish to bring their family overseas, and Mexican travelers overall, the common consensus of this new requirement can be said to be negative. If the purpose of citizens around the world to ask for asylum in Canada is due to their country of origin being a dangerous, violent place, then the reasoning behind the implementation of an eTA or visa seems not only baseless, but harsh for those who truly need an out of one of the most dangerous countries in the world. 

References

Image Source: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/campaigns/eta-work-visa-mexico.html 

Amador, M. (2022, November 8). Number of Mexican asylum seekers in Canada growing with most coming to Montreal. CBC. Retrieved March 15, 2024, from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/mexican-immigrants-increasing-1.6644221 

Aziz, S. (2024, March 12). Mexicans now need a visa to come to Canada. Could this hurt tourism? – National | Globalnews.ca. Global News. Retrieved March 15, 2024, from https://globalnews.ca/news/10353848/mexico-visa-rule-change-canada-tourism/ 

CTV News. (2024, February 29). Canada imposes new visa rules for Mexican travellers. CTV News. Retrieved March 15, 2024, from https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/mexican-nationals-will-soon-need-a-visa-or-travel-pass-to-come-to-canada-1.6788911 

Government of Canada. (2024, February 29). Updated travel information for Mexican citizens coming to Canada. Canada.ca. Retrieved March 15, 2024, from https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2024/02/updated-travel-information-for-mexican-citizens-coming-to-canada.html 

Izri, T. (2024, February 29). Canada’s Mexico visa rule change ‘had to happen’ after asylum spike: minister | Globalnews.ca. Global News. Retrieved March 15, 2024, from https://globalnews.ca/news/10325641/mexico-canada-visas-asylum-claims/