ARCHIVED — Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (temporary resident visa exemption for nationals of Croatia)

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Vol. 143, No. 8 — April 15, 2009

Registration

SOR/2009-105 March 26, 2009

IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE PROTECTION ACT

P.C. 2009-460 March 26, 2009

Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, pursuant to subsections 5(1) and 14(2) and section 26 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (see footnote a), hereby makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (temporary resident visa exemption for nationals of Croatia).

REGULATIONS AMENDING THE IMMIGRATION AND
REFUGEE PROTECTION REGULATIONS (TEMPORARY RESIDENT
VISA EXEMPTION FOR NATIONALS OF CROATIA)

AMENDMENT

1. Paragraph 190(1)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (see footnote 1) is replaced by the following:

(a) are a citizen of Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland or Western Samoa;

COMING INTO FORCE

2. These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

Executive summary

Issue: Citizens of Croatia are currently required to apply for and obtain a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) before travelling to Canada. A comprehensive review of the conditions and trends in Croatia has indicated that the immigration violation and visa application refusal rates for Croatian nationals have steadily decreased over the past five years. Citizenship and Immigration Canada therefore proposes to add Croatia to the list of countries and territories that are exempt from the requirement to obtain a visa before travelling to Canada.

Description: The regulatory amendment will add Croatia to the list of countries and territories whose citizens are exempt from the TRV requirement for travel to Canada under subsection 190(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

Cost-benefit statement: There will be no implementation costs associated with this new measure. Any cost savings for the Government of Canada from this initiative would be minimal at best because they involve infrastructure costs that cannot be easily recuperated. There will be a foregone revenue cost due to the decrease in TRV applications. The regulatory amendment may also result in increased costs to the Government of Canada if Croatian nationals suspected of involvement in serious criminality or war crimes travel to Canada and must subsequently be prosecuted and/or removed.

Business and consumer impacts: The Regulations will facilitate business exchanges from Croatia and lead to a moderate increase in tourism to Canada by nationals of Croatia.

Domestic and international coordination and cooperation: Citizenship and Immigration Canada will work closely with other departments and agencies to ensure the balance between facilitating travel and protecting the health, safety and security of Canadians and the integrity of the immigration system. The Government of Canada has also secured the commitment of the Government of Croatia to enhance bilateral cooperation and to enact any necessary risk mitigation measures in support of the regulatory amendment to lift the visa requirement for Croatia.

Issue

Subsection 11(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) requires that a foreign national apply for and obtain a visa before entering Canada, except in such cases as are prescribed by the Regulations. Citizens of Croatia are currently required to apply for and obtain a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) before travelling to Canada.

Canada’s visa policy is determined on the basis of an evidence-based country-by-country assessment of the established visa review criteria and thresholds. A comprehensive review of the conditions and trends in Croatia was conducted and information was gathered during a technical visit in 2008. The review has shown that the immigration violation and visa application refusal rates for Croatian nationals have steadily decreased over the past five years, while the number of refugee claims and removals has remained low.

As a result of the positive trends identified in the review and in an effort to improve ties with Croatia and facilitate travel for Croatian nationals, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will add Croatia to the list of countries and territories that are exempt from the requirement to obtain a visa before travelling to Canada.

Objectives

The TRV exemption will serve to strengthen ties with the dynamic community of over 110 000 Canadians of Croatian ancestry who have enriched Canada socially and culturally. The regulatory amendment will facilitate the travel of Croatian nationals to Canada and further strengthen Canada’s bilateral relations with Croatia while continuing to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians and the integrity of the immigration system.

Description

The regulatory amendment will add Croatia to the list of countries and territories whose citizens are exempt from the TRV requirement for travel to Canada under subsection 190(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

Regulatory and non-regulatory options considered

There is no alternative to amending the Regulations to exempt citizens of a country from the TRV requirement. The IRPA requires that TRV exemptions be prescribed in regulations.

Benefits and costs

Between January 2004 and December 2008, a total of 19 191 TRV applications from Croatian citizens were processed, averaging 3 838 applications per year. The foregone revenue associated with this visa exemption is estimated to be approximately $328,200 ongoing, based on the current fees for single and multiple entry visas ($75/$150). The source of funds will be CIC Vote 1 Operating Expenditures.

There will be no implementation costs associated with this new measure. Any cost savings for the Government of Canada from this initiative would be minimal at best because they involve infrastructure costs that cannot be easily recuperated.

It is anticipated that the exemption from the TRV requirement will benefit Canada by facilitating business exchanges with Croatia, strengthening ties to existing Croatian communities in Canada and by increasing tourism from Croatia. The regulatory amendment will also have a positive impact on Canada’s trade, defence and security relations with Croatia by removing the main bilateral irritant in Canada-Croatia relations. Croatia’s exemption from the TRV requirement is not expected to have a significant impact on Canadian consumers, competition or the economy.

In general, visa exempt status provides easier access for persons to travel to and enter Canada who may have otherwise been screened and found to be inadmissible on criminal or security grounds before travelling to Canada. The principal screening of travelers for inadmissibility on criminal or security grounds will therefore be performed on Canadian soil by officers at the port of entry and through inland investigations. The performance of these tasks will be part of ongoing activities but may place additional administrative burdens on the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Cost-Benefit Statement

Base Year: …
Final Year:

Total (PV)

Average Annual (ongoing)

A. Quantified Impacts $

Benefits

Costs

CIC, CBSA, RCMP and the Department of Justice (DOJ)

$4,768 - $4,027,284 simplest cases

$45,551 - $4,170,372 complex cases involving litigation

Foregone Revenue

CIC

$328,200

Net Benefits

N/A

B. Quantified Impacts in Non-$ — e.g. Risk Assessment

C. Qualitative Impacts

Positive Impacts

Canadian business community and society

Facilitate business exchanges Increase tourism

Croatian community in Canada

Strengthened ties with Croatia

Government of Canada

Improved foreign, trade, defence and security relations

Negative Impacts

CIC, CBSA, RCMP and DOJ

Additional administrative burden related to Canada’s War Crimes Program, port of entry screening and inland investigations

The visa exemption removes the lowest cost measure to ensure that Canada is not a “safe haven” for Croatian citizens who may have been involved in war crimes or crimes against humanity. The exemption may therefore result in increased costs to the Government of Canada if suspected Croatian war criminals travel to Canada and must subsequently be prosecuted and/or removed.

If Croatian citizens suspected of involvement in war crimes or crimes against humanity travel to Canada, they could be subject to enforcement and removal actions or prosecution. The costs per case associated with these actions range from $4,768 to $4,027,284 in the simplest cases to $45,551 to $4,170,372 in the most complex cases involving litigation. The costs per case could be higher if more than one enforcement or removal action is required.

An increase in the number of prosecutions or removals of suspected war criminals may also result in increased costs and would place additional administrative burdens on Canada’s War Crimes Program. The departments and agencies responsible for this program are the DOJ, the CBSA, the RCMP and CIC.

CIC will continue to actively work with its partners in other departments and agencies to ensure the integrity of the immigration system and mitigate any health, safety or security risks that may arise as a result of Croatia’s exemption from the TRV requirement.

Canada will continue to cooperate closely with Croatia and other multilateral partners to pursue its international commitment to arrest and prosecute war criminals.

The Government of Canada has secured the written assurances of the Government of Croatia that cooperation will be enhanced between the two governments and information sharing will be strengthened on war crimes, migration security and law enforcement. Enhanced information sharing could strengthen Canada’s ability to screen for persons who may have been involved in war crimes or crimes against humanity when they arrive at a port of entry.

The Government of Canada has also secured the written assurances of the Government of Croatia that it will cooperate with Canada on the introduction of an e-passport requirement for Croatian travellers on a mutually determined timeline and, if possible, work towards a Canada-Croatia extradition treaty.

Croatia’s commitment to strengthen bilateral relations in these areas will help mitigate the potential for any factors to emerge that could have an impact on public safety or the integrity of Canada’s immigration programs.

Rationale

The Regulations will facilitate the travel of legitimate visitors to Canada while continuing to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians and the integrity of the immigration system.

The exemption from the TRV requirement will strengthen ties to the Croatian community in Canada and strengthen Canada’s foreign relations with Croatia.

CIC will continue to work closely with other departments and agencies, including Public Safety, the RCMP, the CBSA and the DOJ to employ the full range of existing measures to mitigate any health, safety or security concerns that may arise as a result of Croatia’s exemption from the TRV requirement.

Croatia’s commitment to enhance bilateral cooperation on migration integrity and law enforcement issues will also help to ensure the balance between facilitating travel and protecting the health, safety and security of Canadians and the integrity of the immigration system. This enhanced cooperation and information sharing could strengthen Canada’s ability to screen for persons who may have been involved in war crimes or crimes against humanity when they arrive at a port of entry.

Consultation

Consultations were conducted and input was sought from other federal government departments and agencies, including Public Safety Canada, the CBSA, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, the DOJ, the Privy Council Office, Transport Canada, Finance Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat. These departments and agencies provided information and analysis to support the review of the visa requirement for Croatia.

The Government of Canada has also secured the written assurances of the Government of Croatia that cooperation will be enhanced between the two governments and information sharing will be strengthened on war crimes, migration security and law enforcement. The Government of Canada is confident that strengthening bilateral relations in these areas will help mitigate the potential for any factors to emerge that could subsequently lead to visa re-imposition.

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

Canada has informed the Government of Croatia through diplomatic correspondence of the conditions that will accompany the introduction of the Regulations.

Canada will work with the Government of Croatia to further enhance cooperation and strengthen information sharing on war crimes, migration security and law enforcement issues as per the written assurances provided by the Government of Croatia.

CIC will work closely with other departments and agencies to mitigate any health, safety or security concerns that may arise as a result of Croatia’s exemption from the TRV requirement.

CIC has developed a communication plan to support the announcement of the decision to introduce a TRV exemption for Croatia and to address any questions or concerns that may be raised by the public or other stakeholders.

As this measure removes the TRV requirement, no compliance measures are required. However, the impact of this new measure will be monitored and evaluated with existing databases and according to existing practices. Should this exemption create unforeseen results, a re-imposition of the TRV requirement would be considered.

Contact

Peter MacDougall
Director General
Risk Mitigation Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
300 Slater Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1L1
Email: Peter.MacDougall@cic.gc.ca

Footnote a
S.C. 2001, c. 27

Footnote 1
SOR/2002-227