Visa rules were imposed three years ago due to an influx of bogus refugee claimants damaging bilateral relations between the two countries.
“Removing the visa requirement for tourists and short-term business visitors and streamlining the process for Mexican students will encourage people-to-people exchanges and ease the process of doing business in Canada and Mexico,” said a report written by Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Andrés Rozental, Mexico’s former deputy foreign minister for the The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).
“The two countries have much to learn about one another, and there is a tremendous opportunity to increase that knowledge by, for example, increasing exchanges between Mexicans and Canadians through labour and student mobility agreements and initiatives,” it said.
Despite the visa requirements, trends over the past five years show the number of Mexican students studying in Canada has increased steadily from 3,824 in 2007 to 4,511 in 2011.
Jennifer Humphries of the Canadian Bureau for International Education says the policy change could help accelerate the increase but “we do not believe that it will have a major impact”.
“The president and I agreed to task our officials with looking at how we can proceed step by step with dealing and resolving this particular issue”
What Humphries does see as beneficial for expanding Mexican student mobility in Canada is enhancing the awareness level of Canadian educational opportunities among Mexican educational institutions and the general public. “A deepening of the bilateral relationship – politically and in trade – can definitely help in this regard,” she told The PIE News.
On an official visit to Canada last month, newly elected Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto supported the elimination. “I favour a review of the visa policy in light of the increasing number of hard-working Mexicans seeking to visit, work and study legally in your country.”
But the policy won’t come quite as quickly as supporters would like. Before the visa can be withdrawn, the government must change its immigration system so there is not a recurrence of past problems, it says.
“We have a visa requirement in place because of the massive increase we had in bogus refugee claims coming from Mexico. Under previous law, the government’s ability to deal with this was extremely limited through any mechanism other than the visa,” Harper said.
“We’re in the process of changing our systems and the president and I agreed to task our officials with looking at how we can proceed step by step with dealing and resolving this particular issue, which I think would be in the interests of both of our countries,” he added.
Canada is actively working to increase its market share. Earlier this year it announced a bold plan to double the 239,000 foreign students it currently hosts within 10 years with Mexico listed as a key market to target. Efforts have proven fruitful so far with Canada rising in the ranks to second most attractive study destination in the latest ICEF iGraduate Agent Barometer and topping the Reputation Institute‘s top 50 most reputable countries for two years consecutively.