Canuck- Tell me about the trip you had planned to Canada?
J- Well, I've been planning to go to Montreal for years, I have lots of friends there and they are always asking me to come, but I don't know, it was until this year that i had the chance to to go, so, since January I start planning it, with my brother, he goes every year, but this time I told him to come with me, so he could show me around, he was taking a road trip in June - July so we decided to go after, in August, it was also my brother's best friend birthday and since my brother's friends knew he was coming they book him to play in Montreal, at Salon Daomé, We got our American Visa, to get better flights, and I bought our tickets in June. Everything was ready to leave and I was so excited!
Canuck- How long before your trip did you find out about the new visa rules? Did anyone contact you to notify you or did you just happen to find out online?
J-I found out around the 2nd week of July, my cousin saw it in the news and she called me. We tried to go to the consulate, I called the embassy, but we didn't got any answer, nobody received us, in the phone the machine said "if you have any questions go to the web page". I even got the consul in playa on the phone, but she told me she could not help me, because she din't know anything about this, that I had to call the embassy.
Canuck- What steps did you have to take to make the application? What documents did you need to provide and in what languages? How much did the application cost? Did you have to travel to Mexico City for the process? Did you have an interview in person? If yes, what did they ask you?
J- Well, after we find out that we needed a Visa, I got the application forms from the webpage, we start getting all the papers we were asked for.. in the aplication form, requires that we translate any document in spanish to English or french, I was like "!what!!!!" this will be so expensive, to translate all the documents, proof of employment, paycheck, income tax payments, medical insurance, business registration, Evidence of assets in Mexico, bank documents showing financial historyetc, it was a lot of documents to translate. Along with this, a document to proove that with have no criminal record, and another certificate of good health.- In mexico you know, this paperwork can last up to 3 days - We also need to fill the application form plus other documents:
My personal History, include jobs held, periods of unemployment, study, travels, stays in hospitals, prisons or other places of confinement, and periods at home as a homemaker at this point I was getting mad, you know, I felt impotent for not being able to talk to anybody about this, i mean Do I really need to translate everything, we are in Mexico, and every single document it's in Spanish for christ sake... Lucky me I found out that a friend from school was also aplying but she was leaving in one week, she told me she had to fly to mexico city, and make a 16 hours line, spend the night outside the embassy to be able to have a good spot the next morning. well, she told me that nobody in the line had translated any document. So I figure, is not THAT necesary. So I skip this part. Another documents we were asked for was (since we were going to visit friends, and relatives):
From the applicant: Proof of relationship with the inviter in Canada (e.g. copy of birth certificate, copy of marriage certificate, proof of correspondence, etc.).
From the inviter: An invitation letter stating the purpose and duration of the visit (translation into English or French of this letter is required), a list showing the number of people in inviter’s household, a copy of the inviter’s citizenship or immigration status document, proof of inviter’s income and financial situation
Once we got all of this, we paid the application fee, which was 800 pesos + bank tax = 1050 pesos, we also had to paid the return Airway Bill, wich was 650 pesos, all of this non refundable. We had to mail everything to the Canadian Embassy, including our passport. I also added a copy of our already paid round flight. I work at the mexican government, and also own a restaurant, so I included proof of both, also a letter of my boss saying that i've been working here for 4 years, that I had 2 week holliday, and that I was traveling with my brother, and they expect me to come back to work after that. So once in the mail, we just had to wait. After one week I received a call from the embassy, saying that my aplication was ready but that I need to send the prepaid Airway Bill, which I already had send in the mail, with all my documents. The girl on the phone told me that it wasn't there, that either I send another one or i could come to the embassy to get my papers back. Yeah right, all the way to Mexico city!. so I sent another Airway Bill. at this point I was happy, I tought I got it, so, 4 more days, and the package of my brothers papers arrive, we checked and He got his Visa!!!, we were leaving in one week, but I was still waiting for mine.
Canuck- How were you notified about the results? Did they give reasons for the denial? Did you get a refund on your trip or did you lose everything? Did they say you could reapply for future trips? Are you prohibited for any length of time?
J- It was thursday, my flight was leaving on Sunday, I received the package from the embassy, I was really nervous, I opened it up, and I got a letter from the embassy, that's weird I thought, my brother didn't got a letter. The letter said that they have determined that I don't meet the requirements for a Visa, so therefore my application was DENIED. The reasons was:
- They were not satisfied I had sufficient funds.
Canuck- What are your personal feelings about the visas? Canada?
J- Well, they can do whatever they want, I don't think a visa will stop the immigration, look at United States, visa or not visa, people are still crossing the border. but I don't agree that this was a good way to do it, they should at least give more time to get the visa, it was holliday period a lot of people was traveling there, had planned everythin, payed flight and hotels, and even also maybe the have already bought the entrance for a show or a tour.. The embassy should've give a period of time to get the visa... so that people that already have everything planned and paid could go this time.... I think if I didn't had friends there I would not go to all this trouble to get the visa.. I rather go to the states, they did got me the visa.. and for me, working at a governments office, it was easy to get. But, my friends are waiting for me, so, I'm going to apply again, lets see if I can make it to go in October. Now, I know what was wrong, so that is something I can change, put the money back in my occount, write a letter explaining why it was denied the firs time and see, If I get it.. if not, I'm going somewhere else.. I don't want to stay there, I mean I have my job here, my restaurant, my family. I was In NY a few months ago, and I didn't stay there. But I so want to get a Poutine! ha ha ha ha.
And that was that. Hard working, talented young woman with no nefarious plans to stay in Canada has her vacation plans ruined by a pile of bureaucracy. With more than 200 000 Mexicans traveling to Canada every year, this new visa rule will cause nothing but heartache and trouble. The Canadian government reported that they had 9000 refugee applications last year. So, to try to save themselves from doing paperwork for 9000, now they will have paperwork for 200 000 visa applications. As a Canadian citizen, I am NOT happy with what the government has done or the way in which the new regulations were implemented. Thousands of tourists and business people travel to Canada with great frequency, I don't understand why they need to be penalized for the few that do not have legitimate reasons for entering Canada (and I firmly believe that most who claim refugee status are legitimately in need). I have always been proud of Canada's relationship with Mexico, but this action is only going to strain the partnership. It appears that it is now more difficult to get into Canada than the USA, more paperwork needed and more fees. There has been talk that this is a temporary measure, I certainly hope that is true, I am ashamed of their actions and can only hope that the decision is reversed soon.
Good luck to J and anyone else in her position, I hope that anyone wishing to visit Canada gets the opportunity to do so, without having to jump through hoops and cut through piles of red tape.