Edmonton

New visa requirements for Mexicans hurt Alberta businesses

Businesses in Edmonton that bring in temporary workers are taking a hit because of new visa requirements for people from Mexico and the Czech Republic.

Businesses in Edmonton that bring in temporary workers are taking a hit because of new visa requirements for people from Mexico and the Czech Republic.

The change took effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday. For the first 48 hours, Mexicans and Czechs will be able to apply for entry on arrival in Canada. However, after 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, all visitors from those countries must already have a visa when they arrive at a point of entry.

About 30 Mexican workers were expected to arrive in Alberta next week, said Jessica Wegmann-Sanchez. She and her husband own Bidmexico International, a company that recruits temporary foreign workers.

"Alberta businesses have been waiting for these workers, have planned their whole workload around the arrival of these workers within the next week or two and suddenly they can't come, and they have to go through this whole other process," Wegmann-Sanchez said

"We don't know yet how long it's going to take because it's all new and because the Mexican Embassy's going to be so overloaded."

The businesses will be left without enough staff to complete contracts or staff restaurants at a busy time of the year, she said.

"First it was the fall in the economy ... next we had the H1NI virus ... suddenly this change in the visa restriction — it just seems like it's adding insult to injury, one thing after another and really putting us in a bad situation," Wegmann-Sanchez said.

The change was put in place to stem a surge in refugee claims by visitors from those two countries, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Tuesday.

"It's an insult to the important concept of refugee protection to allow it be systematically violated by people who are overwhelmingly economic immigrants," Kenney told CBC in an interview.

Requiring visas of foreign visitors is the norm, and the majority of Canadians will support the decision, he added.

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