13 July 2010

Canadian Visa numbers for Haitians still too low, say critics

Six months after the earthquake in Haiti, the number of Haitians approved for a Canadian Visa is below the government’s own targets, says critics.

Canada Visa

Canadian Visa numbers for Haitians affected by the earthquake could be increased, say critics.

The Canadian government says it has approved Canada immigration applications for 1,031 Haitians, and while that result is double the number of Canadian visas issued for the same period in 2009 the current rate would still less than the department’s 2010 target of 2,235.

Critics have called for the government to greatly exceed its Canadian Visa targets to alleviate the distress and suffering in the face of the epic scale of the emergency in Haiti, where millions still require shelter, water and sanitation.

A major criticism of the Canada Immigration department has been that disaster victims have not been aided with a Canadian Visa, but that the current approval figures represent applications that were already in progress at the time of the earthquake.

Applicants are also required to have original documents and a valid passport: a difficult and burdensome requirement for many disaster victims.

At a press conference in Ottawa on Monday, Canada Immigration Minister Jason Kenney praised the department’s “speed and diligence” saying the effort represents the “fastest treatment” of applications in Canada’s immigration history, and the “largest number of people ever helped under special measures following a humanitarian disaster.”

The Canadian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for a Canada Visa with the Canadian Embassy.   

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