Canada suspends visa for Ebola nations

07, November, 2014

Canada has become the latest major study destination to suspend the processing of visa applications from Ebola-hit nations, following Australia's earlier announcement of similar measures.

A statement on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website says, “Effective immediately, Canadian visa officers have temporarily paused the processing of visa applications from foreign nationals who have been physically present in a country designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as having widespread and intense transmission of the Ebola virus.” The three counties currently rated at risk by the WHO are Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The statement says the Minsiter of Citizenship, Chris Alexander, will retain discretionary powers to permit entry on a case-by-case basis in exceptional cases and where travel is “essential and in Canada’s interest”.

Defending the decision to halt visas, Alexander said, “Canada has been a leader in international efforts to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The precautionary measures announced today build on actions we have taken to protect the health and safety of Canadians here at home. Our government continues to monitor the situation in West Africa very closely and will continue to act in the best interests of Canadians.”

Australia became the first major world destination to introduce a blanket ban in late October when it announced that all temporary visas for people from Ebola-affected countries would be suspended, and that visas already issued would be cancelled. Permanent visa holders are subject to a 21-day quarantine process before departure.

Dr Isabelle Nuttall, Director, Global Capacities, Alert and Response, at the World Health Organisation has criticised the suspensions imposed by both countries. "These are measures that go beyond the recommendations of the WHO's emergency committee," she said.

“Cutting off beleaguered West African nations would be catastrophic to families and economies,” she said. “The key to stopping the international spread of this disease is global vigilance.”

Agents from Africa commented on the impact of the Ebola virus on the African outbound student business in a recent news report in Study Travel Magazine.   

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