25 de Feb de 2020

Nacional

The hell of getting a Canadian visa

Canadian ambassador’s to Panama have long bemoaned the inevitable grilling they receive on the ambassadorial reception circuit from Pana...

Canadian ambassador’s to Panama have long bemoaned the inevitable grilling they receive on the ambassadorial reception circuit from Panamanians frustrated with the agony of trying to get a visa to visit Canada. The Embassy constantly promotes the advantages of getting an education in Canada, cheaper than the Us, and in many cases better. Those who have studied in both the University of Toronto and Havard, avow that it’s harder to get A’s in the U of T. But when it comes to getting a Canadian visa, versus a US, the difficulty role is reversed.

A local medical practitioner who has a daughter planning to study in Canada is going through the visa nightmare, and the production of everything from bank records to an invitation letter from friends in Canada. Then all the material has to be sent to Guatemala. If the application is turned down, no explanation is given.

Another member of the health industry with a long service record in government clinics relates the story of obtaining a Canadian visa to visit her husband in Canada. In those days the support material had to go direct to Guatemala, by courier, and the applicant paid the cost of sending and return. The application came with letters from priests information about land and property holdings, copies of marriage certificate, etc. Lots of etceteras.

It was granted, for a six month period. At the same time she applied for a US Visa. One interview, very few etceteras. returned a week later, and granted a visa for 10 years.

< And no. It wasn’t Canada that was attacked by terrorists.

A year or two later, with her husband now in Panama she applied again for a visa. All the etceteras were provided including copies of her accounts at a Doctor’s Cooperative (Credit Union).

< This time there were requests for more information, and copies of bank statements. The passport office said there were no bank records. In several phone conversations (paid for by the applicant) she pointed out that she banked at a cooperative and that she had a previous visa, which had actually been extended, while she was in Canada.

When the husband, A Canadian, spoke to the passport office in Guatemala he got short shrift. On one occasion he spoke to a Spanish speaking employee, who refused to produce and English or French speaker, and hung up.

The application was denied and the applicant’s passport, complete with previous visa returned not to the wife, but the husband. The experience cost over $200, No rebate for the passport application fee, and the husband was told that no explanation. would be given. When he pointed out that there was already a file from a previous application he was told that those files were sealed.

The husband traveled to Canada alone. Letters to the appropriate Minister in Canada. produced a form letter reply.

The husband points out that through all this, he got sympathetic hearings from the Embassy in Panama, but their hands were tied. Immigration and Embassy staff work for different masters.

Following this nightmare, an office was opened in the Embassy in Panama, to help those who want to apply for visas, and ensure that they have the appropriate documents. But the visa office is still in Guatemala where, it would seem it depends on whose desk the application lands.

Meanwhile the Doctor mentioned in the opening paragraph, is working on his etceteras, hoping he made the right decision in encouraging his daughter to study in Canada.