The Government of Antigua and Barbuda regrets that it has to inform that the Government of Canada has decided to end visa-free travel for citizens of Antigua and Barbuda. This decision relates to concerns over persons who obtain passports under Citizenship by Investment Programmes in the Caribbean.
The Canadian High Commissioner to Antigua and Barbuda, stationed in Trinidad, advised Prime Minister Gaston Browne of this development late on Friday prior to an official announcement today. At the time, the Canadian official said that a concern is that Antigua and Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Programme is not a residency programme. In response, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne pointed to the intense vetting of its CIP system, the revenues to the people of Antigua and Barbuda when the terms of trade and aid have declined and the banking system is threatened.
Despite the end of visa-free travel, the official Canadian Government statement said, “Canada continues to welcome visitors from Antigua and Barbuda.” It stated clearly that: “Most approved visa applicants will receive a multiple-entry visa, which allows travellers to visit Canada as many times as they want, for up to 10 years. For each visit, travellers can stay for up to six months”.
Antigua and Barbuda is the last of the countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States from whom the Canadian government has withdrawn visa-free travel, at a time of heightened security over terrorism and refugees. Of all 14 independent CARICOM countries, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas and Barbados were the only ones that had continued to enjoy visa-free travel to Canada.
The Canadian Government was keen to point out in its official statement that: “Canada remains firmly committed to its partnership with Antigua and Barbuda and values working together on mutual challenges and opportunities”. The statement recalled that “Canada and Antigua and Barbuda share longstanding ties that are rooted in history.”
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Browne stated that, at a time of intensified concerns about terrorism and refugees in North America and Europe, including evidence of ISIS recruits in the Caribbean, he recognized the concerns that Canada and other countries might have. He pledged that, as part of the international effort to combat terrorist activity, Antigua and Barbuda would continue to be vigilant with its passports and border security.
The Prime Minister said that the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda and Canada have already started working to make the system of visa applications and approvals for Antigua and Barbuda citizens as efficient and affordable as possible.