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July 19, 2010

Saudis get better visa deal

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia has quietly lobbied for a new visa deal with Ottawa. Visas were only good for 18 months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and requirements were imposed over security concerns. Now, the new deal gives Saudis visas for five years with unlimited entrance and exits.

Although tougher visa controls were in place since the attacks, the number of Saudis entering Canada on entrance visas has increased. Canada granted entrance visas to 5,292 new Saudi students and 1,665 Saudi workers in 2009 alone, compared to 199 Saudi workers and 351 students admitted on visas in 2002. Saudi Arabia is now paying for about 62,000 of its own students to attend foreign universities through a major scholarship program.

In contrast to the rising number of Saudis entering Canada since 2002, the number of non-immigrant Saudis admitted to the United States fell sharply after the 2001 attacks.

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