Canada suspends visa requirement for aid workers and evacuees from Haiti transiting through Canadian airports

Ottawa, January 15, 2010 - Passengers aboard non-commercial aircraft bringing aid to and evacuating people from Haiti that are making a technical stop or transiting through Canada's airports temporarily will not require a visa, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.

"The devastation caused from Tuesday's earthquake has created an urgent need for help and to be flexible," said Minister Kenney. "We are doing what we can to facilitate the travel of those affected by the humanitarian crisis in Haiti."

Yesterday Minister Kenney agreed to exempt foreign nationals who are directly responding to, or affected by, the humanitarian situation in Haiti and will transit through Canada on a non-commercial aircraft for the sole purpose of refuelling and/or making a technical stop from the requirement to obtain a temporary resident visa. This measure will be in place temporarily.

Yesterday, one flight from China transited through Vancouver International Airport returning from Haiti. At Gander International Airport, a flight from Russia refuelled en route to Haiti. In the days and weeks ahead, this special measure will serve to help more aircraft to refuel or make technical stops in Canada on their way to or from Haiti.

"This government is looking at other ways to provide assistance to the victims of this tragedy," said Minister Kenney. "We will provide regular updates on our efforts in the coming days."

For further information (media only), please contact:

Media Relations

Communications Branch

Citizenship and Immigration Canada