More Chi­nese travel to Canada de­spite red tape

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By WANG RU wan­gru@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Canada’s Cit­i­zen­ship and Immigration Min­is­ter, Chris Alexan­der, re­cently an­nounced that Canada re­ceived nearly 361,000 Chi­nese visi­tors in 2014 — up 34 per­cent from the pre­vi­ous year.

In ad­di­tion to tem­po­rary trav­el­ers, more than 65,600 Chi­nese stu­dents at­tended Cana­dian schools and 25,000 Chi­nese cit­i­zens be­came per­ma­nent res­i­dents in Canada last year.

Alexan­der made the an­nounce­ment on May 29 at Markham’s Sino-Cana­dian Ed­u­ca­tional and Cul­tural Fes­ti­val.

“China re­mains a top source of stu­dents, visi­tors and im­mi­grants to Canada,” said Alexan­der. “Our gov­ern­ment rec­og­nizes the im­por­tance of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Canada and China and the value China’s peo­ple bring when they choose to study, live, and work in our great coun­try.”

This year, the num­ber of trav­el­ers be­tween China and Canada is ex­pected to rise fur­ther given the closer co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two gov­ern­ments in the area of peo­ple ex­changes.

On March 8, China’s For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter, Wang Yi, an­nounced at the Third Ses­sion of the Eleventh Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress that fol­low­ing China and Amer­ica’s mu­tual 10-year visa ar­range­ment in 2014, China had just reached a sim­i­lar agree­ment with Canada to of­fer visi­tors greater con­ve­nience.

Ef­fec­tive March 9, the Cana­dian em­bassy would grant mul­ti­ple en­try visas to Chi­nese cit­i­zens and visi­tors would be able to con­ve­niently travel be­tween the two sides of the Pa­cific Ocean with just a pass­port in hand for up to 10 years from their visa’s is­su­ing date.

Canada’s immigration poli­cies also eased up since this Jan­uary, when Cit­i­zen­ship and Immigration Canada launched its new elec­tronic sys­tem, Ex­press En­try, to in­vite skilled labors here to ap­ply for per­ma­nent res­i­dency in Canada. Cana­dian em­ploy­ers are heav­ily in­volved dur­ing the se­lec­tion and the av­er­age han­dling time is re­duced to less than six months.

To change the present sit­u­a­tion of case ac­cu­mu­la­tion, pre­vi­ous ap­pli­cants for cer­tain eco­nomic pro­grams, in­clud­ing the Fed­eral Skilled Worker Pro­gram, the Fed­eral Skilled Trades Pro­gram, and the Cana­dian Ex­pe­ri­ence Class will also be el­i­gi­ble to have their ap­pli­ca­tions pro­cessed un­der the new, faster, and more flex­i­ble sys­tem.

For many Chi­nese visi­tors and in­tended im­mi­grants, new poli­cies such as the 10-year visa agree­ment and the Ex­press En­try sys­tem marked the turn­ing point for Cana­dian em­bassy’s strin­gent de­mands for Chi­nese cit­i­zens who wish to travel, work, and live in Canada.

Con­nie Li, for ex­am­ple, is a per­ma­nent res­i­dent in Canada who ac­cord­ing to the cur­rent pol­icy has to spend at least two out of five years there.

“It is re­ally in­con­ve­nient be­cause my job as a for­eign trade man­ager re­quires me to spend most of the year abroad but my em­ploy­ment de­pends on my sta­tus as a per­ma­nent res­i­dent here in Canada,” she said. “I hope that the new pol­icy will soon lead to other more re­laxed re­quire­ments that ac­tu­ally think of our per­sonal dif­fi­cul­ties.”

Ac­cord­ing to China In­ter­na­tional Travel Ser­vice, till now the new pol­icy has not brought any ma­jor growth in peo­ple’s in­ter­est in the com­pany’s Cana­dian tours or immigration ser­vices.

Nei­ther has the Cana­dian em­bassy nor Canada’s Immigration Depart­ment made any real ef­fort since then to make Chi­nese cit­i­zens’ ap­pli­ca­tion process less dif­fi­cult or com­pli­cated. Cheng Yilun con­trib­uted to this story.

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