No Canadian visas are issued in Guyana
Stabroek News
January 28, 2002

Dear Editor,

My mother died in Toronto on December 29th last year. Her funeral was scheduled for the following Thursday, January 3rd 2002. As a result I visited the Canadian Embassy on December 30th with verifiable data to request a visa to attend her funeral and return to Guyana immediately thereafter. I should mention that I was a landed immigrant in Canada and re-mi-grated several years ago. At the gate of the embassy I was shocked to learn that processing of the application would take 21 days. A receptionist further informed me that I must complete a form and pay a fee of $18,000 with no certainty of the visa being granted. She also told me that I had an option of flying to Trinidad to try to get the visa. In view of this I asked to see the High Commissioner.

I asked the High Commissioner whether there was no one there who could grant a visa in emergency circumstances. He said no, I must go to Trinidad for that. I found this incredible and told him so.

While I understand that it is the right of the Canadian Government to accept or reject visa applications as it sees fit, there should be some element of reasonableness in governmental procedures and respect for the dignity of applicants.

In the case of the procedures as described to me, I think that they are financially exploitative, unreasonable, humiliating and possibly discriminatory. I think that it is downright outrageous and disrespectful for them to insist that in emergency circumstances, a visa applicant must pay to go to Trinidad and then pay a non- refundable fee for an application without any indication that the visa will be approved. Is this how medical emergencies are treated?

The experience made me wonder if applications from Romanians or Irish people are treated similarly.

Yours faithfully,

Errol Ming

Editor's note:

Ms Helen Girard, an immigration officer at the Canadian High Commissioner, confirmed that no visas are issued in Guyana, even in emergency situations, and that the applicant would have to go to Trinidad or pay for the documents to go by courier service both ways which takes four to five working days.