Friday 6 December, 2019

No more visa-free travel to Canada for Antiguans

Antigua and Barbuda citizens will be required to apply for visas to visit Canada, starting from June 27, 2017.

According to the Antigua Observer, Chief of Staff Lionel 'Max' Hurst made the disclosure to the Observer on Monday.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne was due to make a statement on the matter later that day.

A statement from the Communications Branch for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Canada confirms the visa requirement takes effect from Tuesday.

The notice says, "After carefully monitoring the integrity of Antigua and Barbuda’s travel documents, the Government of Canada has determined that Antigua and Barbuda no longer meets Canada’s criteria for a visa exemption."

"As of 5:30 a.m. EDT June 27, 2017, citizens from Antigua and Barbuda will need a visa to travel to Canada. At that time, any existing electronic travel authorization (eTA) issued to an Antigua and Barbuda passport holder will no longer be valid and these travellers will not be able to use their eTA to travel to Canada."

The Government of Canada said it is sending emails to all affected eTA holders to inform them that their eTAs are no longer valid and that they will need a visa to travel to Canada.

The notice added that most approved visa applicants will receive a multiple-entry visa, which allows travellers to visit Canada as many times as they want, for up to 10 years.

For each visit, travellers can stay for up to six months. 

For Antiguans who will already be in transit, the Canadian government said it will be working closely with airlines to assist.

For travellers in Antigua and Barbuda with confirmed flights to Canada during the next two weeks, they can send their completed visa applications along with proof that they purchased their flights before June 27, fees and supporting documents, to the Visa Office in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, for priority processing.

If they go in person before noon, their application will be processed that day. If they send via courier, their application will be processed within 24 hours.

Note that while these applicants will receive priority processing, they are not guaranteed a visa by their travel date and may need to make alternative travel arrangements.

 For all other travellers, including those outside of Antigua and Barbuda and those with flights leaving after July 11, 2017, Antiguan and Barbudan citizens can apply online for a visa as of 5:30 a.m. June 27, or submit a paper application in person or by mail to any Visa Application Centre.

The Visa Application Centre in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, is the closest one to Antigua and Barbuda.

The notice adds that most applications (about 80 percent) are processed within 14 days.

The notice said that having pre-booked travel plans or a previously valid eTA does not guarantee that a traveller will be issued a visa.

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