Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Immigrants aren't the only ones frustrated by Canada's stupid policies.

(Excerpt which didn't fit with a recent article, but I want to share nonetheless)

Foreigners aren’t the only ones complaining of the stifling immigration bureaucracy. For a Canadian citizen to be issued a new passport overseas, some of the things they need to provide are:

- A Canadian birth certificate or citizenship card,
- A guarantor form signed by a local official who has known the applicant for two years.

These criteria need to be met even when the applicant is trying to replace a valid passport, either near expiry or running out of pages.

Few international travellers think to carry their birth certificates. But even more ridiculous is how Canadian immigration expects someone visiting a foreign country to have known a (doctor, lawyer, police officer, etc.) for two years.

Picture this scenario. One traveller is having a fit over how to fulfill the ridiculous passport renewal requirements. A second Canadian traveller next to him asks for a letter of recommendation in order to apply for a visa to Sudan or Saudi Arabia.

Embassies such as Sudan and Saudi Arabia require such a letter before granting a visa.

With a valid Canadian passport and the fee of fifty dollars, the Canadian embassy will write something similar to the following.

“Humble greetings from the Canadian Embassy, etc, etc… We would like to guarantee that Mr. John Doe is a Canadian citizen. We would appreciate your hospitality by granting him a passage through your wonderful country, etc, etc…”

“Wait a second,” the first traveller says. “The Canadian embassy will guarantee I have a valid Canadian passport in a letter to some Sudanese guy? Yet they need guarantor forms and a birth certificate when it comes time to replace that exact same passport for Canada’s own purposes?”

I write this because I've experienced both situations.

It took an afternoon to get each of my two embassy letters swearing I was a Canadian citizen.

It took me six months to get my birth certificate found and shipped to Cairo so I could get my passport renewed in Egypt. Don't tell the RCMP and get me arrested for forgery and fraud, but I only knew the dentist who signed my guarantor form for six months. It was either that or be stuck in Egypt illegally for two years.

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