The Canadians have stated that they have evidence to prove that people with ties to terrorist organizations and organized crime, are using the easily obtained St. Kitts and Nevis passport, to avoid immigration screening.
The Canadian authorities say they are concerned that people who wouldn’t otherwise be eligible to enter Canada for security reasons could change their names and sneak into Canada using St. Kitts & Nevis passports.
St. Kitts and Nevis passport applicants can easily change their name, the source said, and the passport doesn’t require prior names to be included in the document.
The source said the majority of St. Kitts and Nevis passport buyers are from Syria and Iran and that “questionable individuals” have received St. Kitts and Nevis passports.
This comes as Canada on Saturday, 22nd November, 2014, issued new restrictions on Kittitians and Nevisians, requiring them to now have a visa to travel to that North American country.
This became effective from midday on Saturday.
Since earlier this year it was made known that the Canadians were unhappy with certain aspects of the program that allows foreigners to qualify and if approved, obtain citizenship of St. Kitts and Nevis. However, the Canadians were so concerned that they dispatched an official envoy to Basseterre to address the matter with the Administration of Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas.
The changes pledged by the Douglas Administration apparently were not enough for the Canadians and they have now moved to ban the “visa-free” travel.
Matters took a turn for the worse when the US Government too, said it was very concerned about the citizenship program and the weaknesses and possible security threat and potential for illegal financial transactions.
The US Government said the St. Kitts and Nevis program “…is attractive to illicit actors because the program, as administered, maintains lax controls as to who may be granted citizenship.”
The Americans were also of the view that the pledges made by Dr. Douglas and his Government to improve the controls, that these were inadequate and they are of the view that the safeguards remain “ineffective”.
The US also said that they too were concerned that certain foreign nationals including those from Iran and other countries in the Middle East were using the St. Kitts and Nevis program, to get their hands on passports from the Caribbean island, as a means of evading US authorities.
Getting a US visa has recently become a difficult talks for many Kittitians and Nevisians applying through the Barbados based embassy.
There has been no official response by the St. Kitts and Nevis Government regarding the move by the Canadians. They have however issued a press release advising their nationals how to apply for a visa.