Canada Reduces Services for Cubans at its Embassy in Havana

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a visit to Cuba in November 2016.  To his right the then Cuban President Raul Castro, on to his left the current president Miguel Diaz Canel.  Photo: Sean Kilpatrick, The Canadian Press

HAVANA TIMES – Over a million Canadians visit Cuba each year as tourists to enjoy its resorts and cities without any problem but the Canadian government will make it doubly difficult for Cubans to visit Canada.

The word came on Wednesday, without warning, and takes effect immediately.  “The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has reduced its programs and services in Havana, Cuba.”

The suspended services include visitor visas, study and work permits, permanent residence interviews.

The Canadian government announced in January 2019 staff reductions at its Havana embassy following in the footsteps of the United States which did the same back in September 2017.  Both countries site serious mysterious illnesses to their embassy staff as the reason.

Cubans wishing to visit Canada can start the process online but will most likely end up having to visit a Canadian consulate in a third country to record biometrics and final approval.

The only remaining services available at the Canadian embassy in Havana are:

“The Embassy of Canada to Cuba will continue to accept all Canadian passport, proof of citizenship (citizenship certificate) and permanent resident travel document applications.

“You can continue to apply for permanent residence under economic and family class programs by following existing application instructions.

“If you submitted an application for permanent residence, it will be transferred to IRCC’s visa office in Mexico City, Mexico. You will be hearing directly from the Mexico City office in the near future on the next steps required for your application.

“Any case-specific questions about your existing application can be directed to IRCC’s visa office in Mexico City.”

12 thoughts on “Canada Reduces Services for Cubans at its Embassy in Havana

  • May 15, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    You may get a response to your letter to the Minister. But it won’t be from his office but a Liberal initiated department that responds to letters to Ministers.

  • May 15, 2019 at 9:26 am

    How come Cubans working in the embassy show no signs of “mysterious illnesses”? The reason behind the closure is dubious. The Canadian government must know how hard it is for any Cuban to leave the country to apply for a visa somewhere else, but chooses to ignore this fact; even when it affects thousands of Cuban-Canadians caught in the middle of this mess. I have personally written to the MP and Minister of Immigration…no reply so far. Meanwhile, prepare your paychecks if you want to see your relatives again in Canada

  • May 14, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    It just goes to prove Robert that the belief by so many Canadians within Canada, that Canada is a Good Guy is mythical.
    One correction. Minister Ahmed Hussen is from Somalia, not Ethiopia.

  • May 11, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    same at the philippines, its all locals

  • May 10, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    For your interest Bernard, the Canadian I referred to above, has twice written directly to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Hon. Ahmed Hussen who is himself an immigrant from Ethiopia. My friend who has a Cuban wife – they are a mixed race couple – suspected that racism was a factor in refusals to issue TRVs and being aware of the racism which permeates many Cubans, asked the Minister whether those taking the decisions not to issue TRVs were Canadians or employed Cubans?
    His first letter received a response from a department established by Justin Trudeu’s Liberal Government to answer letters to Ministers, whereas previously each Minister’s own staff responded. The question he asked about staff was ignored, leading him to suspect – as you have now confirmed, that it is Cubans who have been rejecting applications by Cubans to visit friends or family in Canada. The second letter did not even elicit a response – my friend pays his taxes!
    The Word CANADA on those T-shirts ought to be changed to CANOTDO and the maple leaf ought to be upside down.
    The Canadian Embassy in Havana has long been a disgrace and you are not the only Canadian who has been denied entry. Under the tender care of the Hon. Ahmed Hussen and the Liberal Government, applying for TRVs has now gone from bad to impossible.

  • May 10, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    My Cuban friend and her son applied to visit me in Canada two times. They were turned down the two times. I had supplied her with a legalized invitation, a copy of my net worth and a copy of my Canadian passport. Two years ago when I was in Cuba in the fall, I decided to go to the Canadian Conciliate in Havana and try to meet with the Canadian person that was in charge of the visa department in the Embassy.
    I went to the locked gate at the Embassy in Havana and showed my Canadian passport to the guards behind the gate. The guards spoke English but the only thing Canadian about them was Canada on their t-shirts. When I requested to meet with a Canadian that ran the Visa department, they told me that I could not enter the Embassy . I was not going to leave the gate till I spoke to a Canadian in the Embassy. I kept showing them my Canadian passport and I kept saying I wanted to meet with a Canadian in the Embassy. Finely they phoned inside the Embassy and they said that a lady would talk to me. A Canadian woman spoke to me and she told me she could not help me.
    I gave the phone back to the guard and I kept showing my passport to the guards and I kept repeating that I was a Canadian and I wanted to talk to a Canadian in the Embassy. They got on the phone again and they said that a lady in the Embassy would come out to talk to me.
    This Canadian lady came out of the Embassy and talked to me outside the gate. She was a very fine person. When I told her that I wanted to talk to the Canadian that ran the Visa department , she told me that there were no Canadians in that department. They were all Cubans. I got thinking that they most likely took in enough funds to pay for all the Cubans they had employed there. It had cost me $200 Canadian two times to apply for my friend and her son. They lady told me I could pay and apply again. I told her that I would be better off buying groceries ,if I could find some .,for her and her son.
    She agreed with me. If they lay off all these Cuban employees, will they have to turn in all those tee-shirts with Canada printed on them.

  • May 9, 2019 at 6:32 pm

    I am sorry to tell you Mohamed that your plight is now even worse. Canada now requires biometrics for a TRV in the form of eye photographs and fingerprints and will no longer provide that service in Havana, it would require a trip to Mexico, but even if doing so, there is no guarantee of being issued a TRV. If applying for permanent residence and being accepted, Cuba would no longer accept your wife as a citizen as they don’t permit dual nationality – so you would lose the ability to live in Cuba. The only suggestion I can make is that you write to Canada’s Minister of Immigration and Citiizenship: The Hon. Ahmed Hussen, at The House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario. He has I know received other letters regarding the problem you raise. I write as one with a Cuban wife and I spend the majority of my time in Cuba.
    As reported in Havana Times in January, Embassy staff was cut from 16 to 8 following 14 staff and family members suffering recorded health problems. My personal opinion is that these are not a consequence of Cuban regime actions (and I do not usually defend them) – they offered full cooperation in 2017, but it is probably Russia as Putin has been interfering by use of the Internet in elections in both Europe, the US and Canada – because they are members of NATO and his former KGB colleagues have lots of expertise in
    poisoning and electronic methods of disruption. My sympathy with your plight which is affecting others as well.

  • May 9, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    My Cuban wife was denied a visitor visa twice now. sure i could apply for permanent residency for her but that’s not what we want. i want her to be able to visit me from time to time since i spend most of my time in Cuba.
    I guess my government thinks we are liars.

  • May 9, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    This makes me sick . To think of the good relationship his father had with Cuba and how he got his head up Trumps a** . There is a reason the millions of us Canadians travel to Cuba each year .
    We need to get rid of both Trudeau and Trump and the closed mindedness of both . Allow people to see every country they want to see .

  • May 9, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    Get rid of the trudeau gov
    And the worm trump
    Then open the doors to bring cubans here to canada

  • May 9, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    The Canadian Embassy in Havana has a history of changing its regulations regarding TRVs (Temporary Resident Visas) which are necessary for those wishing to visit Canada. I am aware of a case where applications for the wife of a Canadian were rejected five times. However, following the UK issuing .a TRV to her on her first application, Canada had but little choice and reluctantly issued her a TRV – but not for the period she had requested.
    For many years, the Canadian Embassy process was that applicants having obtained a date for submitting their application and having read the downloaded 35 pages of instructions, had to present their application prior to 10.00 a.m. with no interview. They had to return to the Embassy the same day, to obtain the result – which almost invariably was a denial for spurious reasons including “lack of travel experience” reflecting Alice in Wonderland thinking.
    The system then changed to presenting the application as previously prior to 10.00 a.m., but having to return one week later to receive the result.
    This year, the system again changed to include biometrics and a prolonged delay of over two months between applying for a date to submit the application and the date for that application. As a consequence of this latest action, all those people who in good faith had submitted applications for appointments since February 2019 are left in Limbo.
    One usually associates bureaucratic incompetence with Cuba and the communist system, but Canada is obviously even worse. All the nonsense about the friendly relationship between the “Liberal” Trudeau family (including the current Prime Minister – well known for his affection for photo-ops as shown above) and the Castros, has at long last been exposed as worthless pandering. The sympathy expressed in writing by Trudeau following the death of Fidel Castro for example, was obviously personal rather than reflecting a national Canadian view and indeed he was criticized both in the Canadian parliament and media for his action eventually and reluctantly admitting that Fidel Castro was “a dictator”, but that didn’t prevent the Castro regime from exploiting his “admiration for El Comandante”. As there will be a Federal Election in Canada this year, it is probable that Trudeau will lose (currently he has only 27% support) and Cubans who seek to visit Canada, may hope and for a more enlightened, humanitarian and sincere policy from a new Canadian government.
    In 2018, Canada received 320,000 legal immigrants and some 32,000 illegal immigrants walking across the undefended border from the US. Those legal immigrants most of whom were issued permanent resident visas which lead to citizenship, were predominantly political refugees. But Canada by this most recent action is denying Cubans any similar opportunity.
    Shame on Canada.

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