Good news for Filipinos who want to visit Canada
by Kevin Lamoureux, MP for Winnipeg North
Like others, for many years I have been advocating to make it easier for people who want to visit Canada from the Philippines. Earlier this month Canada’s Minister of Immigration visited Winnipeg to make a major announcement that benefited several countries including the Philippines. In short, people from the Philippines who have visited Canada in the past 10 years or those who have a valid United States visa can now apply to enter Canada by air without a traditional visiting visa.
That is big news as thousands of people will directly benefit and nowhere will it be felt more than here in the city of Winnipeg.
The estimated population of Canada’s Filipino community is one million people of which close to 10 per cent call Manitoba their home – and Manitoba makes up less than four per cent of Canada’s population. Winnipeg’s North End is where you will find the heart of our nation’s Filipino heritage community, which means the announcement made last week will benefit the residents of Winnipeg North more than any other community in the country.
Allow me to give a real-life example. If I have a sister living in the Philippines and she visited me four years ago, all she needs to do today is to go online and apply for the electronic travel authorization, and in most situations, she would be given the green light to enter Canada in minutes.
Had she applied back in May, she would have been required to apply for a visiting visa by putting in a detailed application to Immigration Canada, paid a minimum of $100.00 and then wait for weeks, if not months, before she might be issued a visiting visa that would have allowed her to travel to Canada.
The impact of the announcement will be felt in a very real way in many ways. For the person visiting, not only will he or she be approved within minutes or hours, but the total cost will be less than $10.00.
This new process will free up tens of thousands of staff hours within Immigration Services, which will enable them to better serve those who are applying to visit Canada for the first time or those who are having more difficulties in getting a visa.
The Canadian economy will benefit as the overall number and frequency of people coming to visit Canada will dramatically increase. We will see more international flights coming and going from Canada and hopefully there will be more pressure on airlines like Air Canada and West Jet to do more too. Winnipeg and the surrounding regions could justify the hopes of seeing a direct flight from Winnipeg someday.
Every month I write hundreds of support letters to assist in getting visas approved of which a large percentage have travelled here before and I can confirm that this announcement from last week is good news for all. The biggest winner is obviously the people who have the need or the desire to travel to Canada, but next to them it is the tens of thousands of families and friends who want to see members of their family and friends back home to come for a visit in order to participate in weddings, birthdays, graduations, retirement parties, funerals and so much more.
For me, the announcement was big news and good news as I know how this change will profoundly make it easier for people in the Philippines to visit Canada. I should note that the Minister announced that there are 12 other countries that will also be eligible for the electronic travel authorization – Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Costa Rica, Morocco, Panama, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay.