The ability for residents of St. Kitts & Nevis to travel freely between their twin islands country and Canada has ended because of its government’s controversial economic citizenship program.
As of November 22, citizens of that country will require a visa to travel to Canada.
A Canadian government release stated the restriction was implemented because of concerns about the issuance of passports and identity management practices within the St. Kitts & Nevis’ investment program.
“Canada is acting to protect the safety and security of Canadians and the integrity of our immigration system,” the release said. “The visa requirement will ensure that Canada will be able to properly determine the true identity of St. Kitts & Nevis passport holders and to deny entry to those who would otherwise be inadmissible to Canada.”
While visiting Toronto last year, St. Kitts & Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas defended his government’s economic citizenship program that allows foreigners to obtain citizenship through its “Citizenship by Investment” program which was established in 1984.
While the passport allows holders to travel visa-free to numerous countries around the world, Douglas expressed confidence that the travel document will not end up in the “wrong hands” and thus lead to the imposition of visa requirements for St. Kitts & Nevis nationals seeking to enter Canada.
Last year, Canadian border agents became concerned after questioning an Iranian businessman who was holding a St. Kitts & Nevis passport he claimed he bought for US$1 million. He told border security he was entering Canada for meetings with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on behalf of the St. Kitts & Nevis government.
His claims proved false.
In July 2013, Douglas declared that nationals from Afghanistan and Iran would no longer be permitted to apply for St. Kitts & Nevis citizenship under the program.
Citing criminality, security and border integrity concerns posed by their controversial economic citizenship program, the federal government enforced visitor visa requirements on Grenada and Dominica 13 years ago for selling passports to anyone who could afford to purchase the travel document.
Kittitian-born lawyer Leroy Crosse said he’s not surprised by the move to impose visa requirements on Kittitian & Nevisian citizens.
“It’s something I have been predicting for quite a while,” he said. “Everything has a consequence including collecting money from foreigners for citizenship. It was just a matter of time before Canada acted.”
Crosse is among many Kittitian and Nevisian nationals in Canada who have hosted family members from the twin islands.
“I have a cousin who has been coming here annually for the past few years for a medical issue,” he said. “She will be impacted as are many others who come here for vacation.”
Kittitians and Nevisian can apply online (h/English/visit/apply-how.asp) for a visitor visa to travel to Canada or submit a paper (/English/information/application/visa.asp) application either in person, by mail or courier to any visa application centre, including the one in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago.
The processing time for an application at the Port-of-Spain office is expected to take 14 days.