Canada’s No Fly List

Like its security-obsessed neighbour, America, the Canadian government operates a top secret no-fly list, which contains the names of people considered a security risk to international airlines. The list, officially known as ‘Specified Persons List’, has been operational since 2007, but the federal government refuses to disclose the names on the list or even the number of people they consider to be a risk. To date, several Canadians have reported that they were banned from flying because their name was on the Specified Persons List. The most public case is that of Hani Ahmed Al Telbani, a Palestinian Muslim immigrant engineer who is known to have surfed extremist websites using the nick-name ‘Technical Jihad’. Al Telbani has already been barred from boarding a flight from Montreal to Saudi Arabia under the Passenger Protect Program.

The no-fly list works in the following way; when airline passengers check in, their name is entered into the airlines computer database. If they are flagged as a security risk they are handed an ‘Emergency Direction’ issued by Transport Canada. The Emergency Direction states that they ‘pose an immediate threat to aviation security.’

Given the atrocious events of America’s 9/11, most Canadian citizens support the existence of a no-fly list but the margin for error is of great concern; consider the reports of 15-year-old, Alistair Butt, who was on the no-fly list. His parents were told that the only way to have him deleted was to change his name. Similarly a teacher from British Columbia had to pay around $20,000 in legal fees to get her name deleted from the list. In both situations, these Canadian citizens were not given any information as to how their names ended up on the list.

Undoubtedly this proves that the list contains the names of citizens and permanent residents who pose no real threat to security.  Indeed a government report condemned the addition of Al Telbani’s name to the list. The secret report criticized criteria selected by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) barring Al Telbani in the first place. Transport Canada reviewed Al Telbani’s intelligence file and despite new information in his favour, stuck by their original decision.

Visa Requirements for the European Union

The European Union is made up of 27 countries that have signed and ratified the Treaties of the European Union. All of these countries bar two (UK and Ireland) have a unified visa system under the Schengen Agreement; Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus are not technically part of the Schengen Area but maintain the same visa policies as the Schengen Agreement. For visa purposes there are also three non-member states (Norway, Switzerland and Iceland) that are also part of the Schengen Area.

Canada has a reciprocal visa agreement with the countries making up the European Union and the three non-member countries that are part of the Schengen Area. This means that Canadian citizens do not need a visa to travel to the European Union providing their stay does not exceed 90 days in any half year period and the purpose of your visit is limited to leisure visits like sight-seeing or visiting friends and family and EU nationals with the exception of citizens of Bulgaria, Romania, and the Czech Republic, are allowed to visit Canada on the same basis. Bulgarians, Romanians and Czech citizens must obtain a visa to enter Canada legally.

Canadian Permanent Resident card holders do not need a transit visa for the EU because their PR card guarantees them unconditional re-entry into Canada.

The UK’s long association with Canada means that Canadian citizens can enter the United Kingdom for six months without a visa. Ireland offers Canadian citizens 90 days of visa free access.

The European Union consists of the following countries:

Austria

Belgium

Bulgaria

Cyprus

Czech Republic

Denmark

Estonia

Finland

France

Germany

Greece

Hungary

Ireland

Italy

Latvia

Lithuania

Luxembourg

Malta

Netherlands

Poland

Portugal

Romania

Slovakia

Spain

Sweden

United Kingdom

Visa Free Access for Canadian Passport Holders

Canadian citizens do not need a visa to for around 154 countries around the world. This means that as long as you have a valid Canadian passport you can simply get on a plane and fly to a visa-free destination without the hassle of applying for a visa before you leave. Some countries do require Canadian visitors to obtain a visa, but the visa is issued at the foreign port of entry i.e. when you get off the plane and go to the immigration desk.

Visa free travel is only available to Canadians who are visiting a country for tourism and leisure or a conference or meeting.  Anyone wishing to work – paid or unpaid may require a visa.

When visiting a visa free country travelers must check how long they are allowed to stay; only St Helena and Jamaica offer completely visa free access to Canadians. Other countries allow access for anything between 14 days (Leotho and Brunei) to 360 days (Georgia) with all other countries allowing stays of 3 to 6 months. Some countries require Canadian citizens to pre-register their arrival through Electronic Pre-Authorization systems like ESTA in the USA and ETA in Australia and New Zealand.

Visa free countries:

Africa: Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mayotte, Morocco, Namibia, Reunion, Rwanda, St Helena, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tunisia

Americas: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Cayman Islands, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Peru, Puerto Rico, St Barthelme, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Martin, St Pierre and Miquelon, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, USA, Uruguay, Venezuela, British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands

Asia: Brunei Darussalam, Georgia, Hong Kong, Iraq, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Lebanon, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, UAE

Europe:

European Union, Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Iceland, Isle of Man. Jersey, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine, Vatican City

Oceania

American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Islands, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna

Canadian travel abroad tips

It is the hottest month of the year and many Canadians are planning to spend their holidays abroad. Police are warning anyone heading on a summer holiday abroad  to avoid mentioning their plans on Facebook or Twitter, or risk having thieves target their homes. It’s now routine for police officers to ask  victims of robbery what information they put on Facebook and Twitter before the crime and if their online connections are true friends or potential suspects, according to Jean. Canadian Police hasn’t had a breaking and entering case directly tied to Facebook yet,people are still advised to do the online equivalent of leaving the light on when they are away from home, that is to  keep their online profiles looking like they are still home.

Another tip for Canadians traveling abroad is provided by the Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada. They recommend that  Canadians use the  online registration service  if they plan to travel to countries which represent a security risks such as Brazil, India or Vietnam.

The Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) is a free service that enables you to sign up and be contacted and assisted by government officials in case of an emergency abroad, such as a natural disaster or civil unrest, or informed about an emergency at home.  When you register , you will need to provide travel information and personal details, such as your passport number, residency information in the destination country, and emergency contact information in Canada, such as a relative or a friend. It is best to register before leaving Canada, but one can also register while abroad.

Registration can be doneonline and offline by completing registration forms. If you are already abroad, you can also register by contacting the nearest Canadian government office abroad. Canadians should be aware that personal information obtained through registration is confidential and not shared with third parties.

If you choose not to register to this service, you are strongly advised to make the following arrangements before your departure so that the government of Canada can contact you in case of an emergency:

  • leave a detailed travel itinerary and contact details with family or friends in Canada;
  • provide family or friends with the telephone number for our Emergency Operations Centre; and
  • carry contact information for the Canadian government offices abroad in the countries you plan to visit.
  • If you are a dual nationality holder, make sure to travel with your Canadian passport, which will make you eligible for help from Canadian Embassies and consulates abroad

India Tourist Visa

Nationals of almost all countries in the world need an Indian tourist visa in order to visit the country. India is one of the leading nations of the world in terms of hosting international events. India conducts various international events throughout the year which are attended by large number of people from across the globe. The most popular international events that are worth getting an India tourist visa are the International trade fair, Pravasi Bhartiya Divas, Delhi International Leather fair, Indian jewelery and watch exhibition, Aero show etc are held in India through out the year.These international events in India are attract thousands of foreign tourists from across the world.

In order to apply for an Indian tourist visa, travelers need to contact the Indian Embassy or Consulate in Canada and submit the following documents:a visa application, two passport-type photographs and a receipt for paying the fee. Visa applicants need to have a valid Canada passport with a minimum of six months remaining validity from the date of departure and at least two blank visa pages. Canadian travelers with a multiple entry visa are permitted to re-enter India after two months have passed since the last visit. India tourist visa is issued by the Consulate General of India who will not process applications without relevant supporting documents.

Canadians can apply for their India tourist visa themselves. This is most often the case for people who live near an Indian Embassy or Consulate, then you download, complete and submit the documents themselves. Keep in mind that Indian consulates accept visa applications only in person. However, if you plan to India and do not want to risk your trip, you can choose to hire a visa service company to do the job for you. Visa companies have trained professionals who always examine the forms before submitting them and can provide valuable visa advice.

Holding Dual Citizenship

When applying for a visa to another country, Canadians who hold dual citizenship should apply using their Canadian passport. Many Canadian citizens hold dual citizenship. This means that they are recognised as full  citizens of Canada whilst also being fully fledged citizens of another country.  Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada recommends that you use your Canadian passport when obtaining a visa for another country and when travelling from Canada. Should you run into difficulties during your stay in another country, the local Canadian Consulate will be able to help you only if you have travelled there on your Canada passport. If you are of Chinese ancestry, you should enter the country using your Canada passport. China does not recognise dual nationality but a bilateral agreement with Canada has made it possible for Chinese Canadians to be accepted as Canadian citizens.

There are both benefits and disadvantages to holding dual citizenship.

Benefits include the employment opportunists gained in another country by being a citizen there, admission to social benefit programmes like free or subsidised health care and education, unlimited residency and maintaining ties to your homeland.

Disadvantages of holding dual nationality include the fact that your Canada citizenship may not be recognised if you enter a country using another passport. Some countries like Germany do not allow dual citizenship. This leads to another disadvantage of being a dual national; you may have to renounce your citizenship of a particular country if that country does not allow you to hold dual nationality. You may also be obliged to conform to the other country’s laws and regulations e.g. you may have to complete military service or comply with local tax arrangements.

Some Canada citizens are not aware that they automatically hold dual citizenship. In countries like Iran you may automatically become a citizen because you have married an Iranian citizen. You should look at renouncing your second nationality if you discover that it will cause you difficulties. Canada’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade office in Ottawa have an emergency helpline for Canadian citizens who run into difficulties with their dual nationality.

Getting a Russian Business Visa

Russian Business visa is obligatory for almost all foreign nationals who wish to visit Russia for business purposes. In order to apply for a Russian business visa, travelers need to contact the Russian Embassy or Consulate in Canada and submit the following documents:

You must fulfil certain Russia visa requirements for a Russian tourist or a Russian business visa. Firstly, visa applicants need to have a valid Canada passport with a minimum of six months remaining validity from the date of departure and at least two blank visa pages. Secondly, they need to submit two copies of a completed and signed visa application form. Thirdly, they need to provide two passport-sized photos, signed on the back. If Canadian businessmen plan to stay in Russia for more than three months, they need to attach a valid HIV test which has been taken in the last 90 days. Last but not least, Canadian business people need an official letter from a Russian company inviting them to visit Russia.

Within three business days of arrival in Russia, the Russian business visa needs to be registered with the immigration police by the organization that issued the invitation. If you overlook this little bureaucratic step, you may have problems leaving the country.

Some people prefer to arrange for their Russian Business visa themselves. If you live in a city with a Russian embassy or consulate, you can download, complete and submit the documents yourself. Keep in mind that Russian consulates accept visa applications only in the morning.  However, most travellers choose to hire a visa service company for the job to make sure they get their Russian business visa on time and they have all the correct supporting documentation. Visa companies have trained professionals who will examine the forms before submitting them and give you valuable visa advice.

Chinese tourist visa to the Shanghai World Expo 2010

70 million people from all over the world will be applying for a Chinese tourist visa, to visit the 2010 World Expo. The moto for this year’s expo is “Better City, Better Life”. It will boost the concept of ecology and environmental protection and stimulate scientific research and technology development.

Experts say that the green and cutting-edge technologies used or showcased at the Expo would be widely introduced into real life. Since most Expo pavilions are temporary constructions, many of them have been built using environmental friendly materials that can be recycled after they are dismantled.

As vehicle exhaust are the major air pollutant in downtown areas, the Expo will showcase 1,017 new energy vehicles which will result in a reduction of 10,000 tons of petrol over traditional vehicles during the 6-month event, reduction of  carbon dioxide emissions and saving tons of other harmful chemicals.

Most visitors to this year’s World Expo will have to apply for a Chinese tourist visa, or L-visa in their respective countries. Canadian citizens and permanent residents who apply for a Chinese visa need to submit their passports, valid for at least 6 months after the provisional return date, a completed visa application form and a recent photo of themselves. There are several types of Chinese tourist visas: single entry (valid for 3 to 6 months), double entry (valid for 6 months) and multiple entry (valid for up to 12 months). China tourist visas must be obtained prior to leaving Canada; travelers will not be able to board the plane without it.

Once in China, Canadian citizens can travel around the country, learn about Chinese Culture and History. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises Canadian travellers to China should exercise a high degree of caution to ensure their safety and security is not compromised. If in trouble, Canadian citizens should contact the Canadian Embassy or consulates in China.

Canadians subject to US Secure Flight Policy

Canadian travellers will be subject to the new US Secure Flight Policy when flying over US air space. The new travel rules, which affect all international passengers flying into US air space are expected to cause long delays as the American government obtains and scrutinizes the personal details of all passengers.

AS the current law stands, Canadian citizens only need a valid Canadian passport or a travel document like a NEXUS card that conforms with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative to enter US air space.  In future anyone who enters United States air space will be subject to the new Secure Flight Policy rules to be implemented this coming December by the Department of Homeland Security. Resistance to the new policy by the Canadian government has proved ineffective because US control of their own air space means that anyone that enters it must conform to American law. The US government maintains that “Secure Flight will make travel safer and easier for passengers.”

Potential problems are likely to arise for any Canadian passengers whose surnames are identical to or similar to those registered on the No Fly List. Many of the names on the list are held by ordinary, low risk Canadian citizens including military personnel and children. The majority of names are foreign or ethnic-sounding names, which has led the No Fly List to be branded as racist.

Travel plans of hundreds of Canadian citizens and permanent residents are in jeopardy. Anyone regardless of age whose name is flagged by the new system in error will have to wait up to 3 months to resolve the conflict caused by their personal details.

Another area of concern is the disclosure of personal information. Information such as passport details, birth dates, gender, name and itineraries will be held indefinitely by the US government and can be revealed to any undisclosed agency like immigration and law enforcement should the government believe that it is in the country’s interest to do so.

The Secure Flight Policy is the result of one of the most significant proposals put forward by the 9/11 Commission from the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and the 9/11 Commission Act signed into law in 2007.

Despite hundreds of flights from the United States entering Canadian air space each day, the Canadian government is not pursuing its own Secure Flight Policy.