OTTAWA (UPI) — For the first time in nearly a decade, travelers from Mexico will no longer be required to have a visa to enter Canada, government officials said Tuesday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the policy change Tuesday, expressing a desire to “re-establish and strengthen” Canada’s relationship with Mexico.
The lifting of the visa requirement will take effect Dec. 1, officials said.
“Lifting the visa requirement will deepen ties between Canada and Mexico and will increase the flow of travelers, ideas, and businesses between both countries,” Trudeau’s office said in a news release Tuesday.
“Canadian officials are working with their Mexican counterparts on final details to ensure a successful visa lift.”
The visa requirement for Mexican travelers has been in place since 2009, when it was implemented out of a desire to control the flow of refugees, which officials said was rooted in ineffectual Canadian law.
“This is not the fault of the government of Mexico,” then-Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said at the time. “Let me be very clear about this. This is a problem with Canadian refugee law, which encourages bogus claims.”
“Since 2009, this barrier has been set. But today, thanks to great political will, we are overcoming such a barrier,” Mexican President Pena Nieto said. “We’re here to renew the relationship Canada and Mexico have and we’re clearing our way.”
However, once the visa requirement is lifted Mexican nationals will still need what the Canadian government calls an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), which can be applied for online.
Tuesday’s announcement came the day before the start of the North American Leaders’ Summit, also known as the Three Amigos summit, that is attended every year by representatives from Canada, Mexico and the United States.
This year’s meet will occur Wednesday in Ottawa. The United States will again host next year’s summit.
While the visa requirement for Mexican travelers will soon be waived, such documentation is not required for American travelers entering Canada.
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