This week, it’s all good news! Have you got any friends or relatives in Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania or Hungary that you haven’t seen in a while?
If so, you might want to give them a call and invite them here for a visit because they won’t need a visa to visit Canada anymore.
On March 1, our immigration minister, Diane Finley, finally heeded the increasingly louder calls to lift the visa requirements on nationals from these countries. The European Union extended membership to them in May 2004 and has been waiting ever since for Canada to extend to the nationals of these countries the same treatment offered to other European travellers. CIC announced that it would continue to work on the cases of Bulgaria and Romania, which only joined the EU in January 2007, and whose nationals still need visas to visit here.
The 2008 Budget, which was tabled last week by the federal Conservatives, included $22 million to be spent over the next two years to “modernize” the immigration system and to speed up the processing of permanent resident applications.
Although this investment is expected to eventually grow to $37 million per year it pales in comparison to the ever-growing budget for “border security” which will increase, yet again, by another $145 million during the same period. Nonetheless, this plan should definitely be viewed as good news because, since 9/11, many governments have been loath to even think out loud about spending new money on speeding up their immigration programs. In Canada, that taboo finally appears to be behind us.
On Feb. 11, Ontario and the Atlantic provinces were the last regions to receive their own Temporary Foreign Worker Units. Employers in Ontario can now formally request an opinion from CIC as to whether or a not they need to obtain a positive Labour Market Opinion from HRSDC prior to offering a particular position to a foreign national. Such opinions will be recorded in CIC’s computer system for consideration by border officials at Canadian ports-of-entry, but will not be binding on them. This service applies only to positions being offered to foreigners from countries whose nationals do not need a visa to visit Canada.