More Chinese travel to Canada despite red tape
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.