CASTRIES, St.Lucia, CMC - Prime Minister Kenny Anthony has expressed concern over the impact of the new visa information sharing agreement between Canada and the United States .
The agreement allows both countries to share information about third country nationals who apply for a visa or permit to travel to either the US or Canada.
The agreement which was signed last month follows a decision made by the Government of Canada in September last year to impose visa restrictions on St.Lucians.
At that time Canada said criminals from St.Lucia could enter the country without being checked and they could also obtain travel documents with new names.
The Canadian officials were also concerned about the high number of refugee claims from St.Lucia.
The Prime Minister said the new visa information sharing pact between Canada and the US represents another blow to the country.
"I guess somehow that the value of the historical relationship that Canada and the Caribbean shared, that relationship is no longer that important to this current Canadian administration as has been the case in the past.
All of this is really very unfortunate and the tragedy of it all is that we are being punished for problems that could have been resolved at the Canadian end many years ago, but the Canadians did not have the will to act and they have decided to make us pay for what ever weaknesses that existed in their system," he added.
Dr. Anthony said the new visa information agreement has very serious consequences, as what happens with the Canadians with respect to entry requirements could be adopted wholesale by the US.
"It means that once you have applied to the USA for a visa and that visa has been declined, the US will complain to the Canadians that visa has been declined. Likewise if one applies for a Canadian and they deny that application they would then inform their US counterpart and chances are the US will also decline approval for the application."
The Prime Minister said even more significantly if the US decides to revoke a visa it is likely that Canada under the revocation would disallow entry that person entry.
He said what this means is that when St.Lucians apply for visas from Canada or US they need to ensure that the information is absolutely accurate.