The Canadian logic: spend thousands on your vacation and we might grant you visa

In Politics on July 15, 2009 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

The Canadian government has recently reintroduced its visa regime for Czechs, after hundreds of Czech Roma who claimed to have been discriminated sought asylum in the North American country. Hundreds of Czechs have since started to panic.

There was no transitional period. Oh, wait, there was. Two lousy days.

There are students who have paid for their internship programs or exchange programs. They have to travel to Vienna, Austria and visit the Canadian embassy.

There are tourists who have paid for their North American vacation. The problem is that it includes a visit to the United States and they fear they might not be granted entry to Canada upon return from their half-day trips to the U.S.

The applications are not being processed in a fair manner. The Czech Television ran a story of two applicants: one woman provided her bank account statements, proofs of her ties to the Czech Republic and a return ticket. Her application was dismissed. An unnamed man did not even have a letter of invitation (which the woman did) and an airline ticket. And he even made some data up. He WAS granted the visa.

The weirdest logic: the Canadian government will not grant visas to tourists unless they have provided proofs of their “holiday purposes”. In other words, they want you to spend CZK 70,000 — before they even consider accepting your application – which they do not have to. The government behaves like a robber who holds their victim at gunpoint: Give me your wallet and nobody gets hurt. But you don’t know for sure…

It has been an established fact that this is a result of a generous asylum policy, where the success rate was considerably higher, as compared to other countries. Many Czech Roma went to Canada because “it would take care of them”. Sure, the influx will stop ALTOGETHER… but the new system will cause harm to people who mean well (students, businesspersons, tourists).


5 Responses to “The Canadian logic: spend thousands on your vacation and we might grant you visa”

  1. Petr, you are greatly simplifying this entire issue, and seem to be accusing the Canadian government of “discrimination?” Am I correct?

    The Roma issue in Europe is certainly a complex one. But maybe you should start your essay on discrimination and immigration there.

    Example: Why ARE the Roma wanting to flee CZ for Canada?

    Are you saying that you understand the preventative measures Canada has enacted to curb emigres who just “want to be taken care of?” Are you referring to the CZ Roma?

    Do you not understand why non-Roma would not be treated differently in the same situation?

    I am quite confused as to what point you are trying to make here.


  2. I admit I am simplifying because you can write a book on this issue and still leave some things unmentioned.

    I am not accusing the Canadian government of discrimination. I am accusing it of its lack of judgment. It should announce that NO applicants from the Czech Republic will be acknowledged for the next two months but tourists and students who have already paid for their programs may enter the country freely.

    I am actually accusing the system of being a total mess, because if you can have a lying applicant cheat the system and an honest woman’s application be dismissed in one day, all due to individual decisions of embassy officers, something isn’t right.

    The reasons why the Roma would want to flee the CR for Canada are numerous. I maintain that many of them chose Canada because of its generous social system. Think about it: if you run away in desperation to seek asylum, you pick the nearest “free country” you land in, as long as it grants freedom (as compared to your country). Nobody has ever explained why the Roma who now want to try their luck in Canada do not pick any EU country where Czechs can work instead.

    I do admit that the Roma are discriminated on the labor market, but we have laws against it. It is not a state policy (e.g. kind of like in some Asian countries where women mean nothing).

    The best solution for Canada would be an immediate amendment to the act on immigration. I do not have the best solution for this country, though…

    • Petr, Yes it is a complex issue, but it does not lend well to simplifying, and simplifying it does an injustice to the real issue at hand.

      I agree with much of what you say, but you are missing my point. The Roma are (were?) being accepted into Canada on grounds of ethnic persecution and political asylum stemming from a rising tide of neo-nationalistic fascism not only in CZ, but in many other European countries as well.

      This is a completely different issue from the granting of visitors visas, standard immigration guidelines, etc…

  3. Here are the facts:
    “The press agencies reiterate that the largest numbers of requests for asylum in Canada come from Mexico and the Czech Republic. Canadian data show that the number of Czech asylum seekers rose from fewer than five requests in 2006, when the visa obligation was still in effect, to a total of 3 000 since October 2007, when the visa obligation was lifted.

    The number of Mexican requests has tripled since 2005, reaching 9 400 in 2008, one-quarter of all asylum requests. Only 11 % of Mexican applicants for asylum have succeeded.”

    The cost of processing these “refugee asylum” claims average about $29,000 per case. Our government is concerned that people from Mexico and the Czech Republic are trying to circumvent normal immigration rules and practices to have their “refugee” claims heard (at great cost to the government) and to jump the queue. This undermines our government’s ability to help real refugees the world over. These folks are economic immigrants, not real refugees. Follow the rules that are in place for immigration to Canada, don’t try to scam us because we are soft hearted.

    If the Roma are being discriminated against in the Czech Republic, let the EU get involved. Petr, get your own house in order, before dumping on Canadian immigration practices. The Roma are free to work almost anywhere in the EU, if circumstances aren’t “friendly” in the Czech Republic, they can move within the EU. EU countries should be working together to fix this problem rather than dictating to Canada what its immigration and refugee policies should be.

  4. My solution to the Czech/Roma/visa problem … Give the Roma a few square miles of open land, an expensive printing press, and let them have a city-state that makes its own passports. Then you can let Czechs travel to Canada freely — and the Roma can travel to Vienna to get processed independently. I mean, they are a separate people, as I think everybody knows.

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