Prime Minister Gaston Browne has written to Canadian PM Justin Trudeau asking for directions on how to strengthen the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) in order to restore visa-free access for Antiguans and Barbudans to Canada.
The letter, dated January 13, comes in the wake of media reports revealing, for the first, an official reason for the nation’s loss of visa free access to Canada in 2017.
“A video recording of a town hall meeting that you recently conducted has been doing the rounds of social media in Antigua and Barbuda, particularly the section in which you responded to a question about Canada ending visa-free access for holders of Antigua and Barbuda passports,” PM Browne wrote.
“Briefly, I understand you to have said that the reason for imposing visa requirements on Antigua and Barbuda is that our Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) did not have the level of stringency and analysis to satisfy Canada’s high standards for border control and security.”
Browne said he is unaware of Canada’s requirements so he could not comment on them, but he noted that Antigua had four levels of vetting including by INTERPOL.
He wrote that as recently as six months ago, his government invited Canada to “work with us to ensure our CIP systems meet Canada’s high standards.”
“Given the remarks you made at the Town Hall meeting, I am again renewing the invitation for your government to review our programme without restraint and make recommendations for implementing improvements that would satisfy Canadian standards.”
PM Browne noted that High Commissioner Ronald Sanders is scheduled to be in Ottawa on January 31st and February 1st and offered for him to discuss the matter with Canadian authorities.