All Posts Tagged With: "visas"
Info on those who want to visit, study or work in Canada could be shared
OTTAWA – A newly signed agreement says the United States will be allowed to share biometric information about visa applicants to Canada with third countries.
It means the fingerprints and photo of someone who hopes to visit, study or work in Canada could be passed to Washington, which in turn might share them with another country to help verify the person’s identity.
The federal privacy commissioner’s office has raised concerns that such personal information provided by Canada could end up in countries that have a poor human rights record, endangering the applicant or their family.
At a ceremony to sign the information-sharing agreement, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and U.S. ambassador David Jacobson stressed that the information would be handled with due regard for privacy.
The initiative, which affects nationals of 29 countries seeking visas, is part of a perimeter security deal reached last year between Canada and the United States.
The idea is to strengthen continental security while speeding the passage of goods and people across the 49th parallel.
Asian-dominated suburbs: the best cultural decompression chamber
As I sat down to write this blog, I got the chance to practice my Mandarin for the first time since returning to Canada three days ago. Already feeling cooped up in my parents’ house in Markham, I decided to find a café to try and write. One of great Taiwanese past-times is bringing your work and laptop to a café for hours and sitting next to your friend/boyfriend/girlfriend in silence while they do the same thing. In Taipei one of my favourite Sunday rituals was taking a five-minute walk to Café Belgie, in a quiet corner in the Shida night market, and grabbing some Belgian trappist beer while attempting to do my homework. In Markham, I contemplated riding my bike but settled on taking the bus to Green Grotto Tea Room in one of our great suburban plazas. When I walked in, the waiter asked me in Mandarin if I wanted take out or not. I managed to stutter that I would be staying. It took a great amount of effort–partly out of surprise I was being asked in Mandarin and partly in a struggle to remember how to pronounce the word “sit.”
Markham is one of the biggest Little Hong Kong’s of the world. It’s home to Pacific Mall, North America’s largest Asian indoor shopping mall. You can probably get by in this town speaking only a handful of English words–that is if you if you speak Cantonese. So identified are the Cantonese with Markham, they complain about feeling invaded when new ethnic groups (mainland China, Indian, Taiwanese, Tamil) move in.
Green Grotto is across from Metro Square, a mall I have been told is a Taiwanese mall. This meant nothing to me whenever I first heard it. It was just another Asian mall in Markham. Being back here makes me want to seek out all the Taiwanese in Markham and talk to them about Taiwan. Like how most people (local and fellow foreigners) assumed I was Taiwanese in Taiwan, I’m guilty of assuming people in Markham are Cantonese.
I can tell I have already developed that connection to culture you get after living there for a short time. It’s like how every time I meet a Dutch person I can’t let the opportunity pass without discussing the country and my favourite quirks about its people. I can see myself gushing about Taipei in much the same way except in broken and mispronounced Mandarin.
There won’t be much time to make Taiwanese friends, at least here in Canada. Yesterday, I went to the French consulate to apply for my long stay visa. From reading the language assistants’ online forum, it’s unanimous that French bureaucracy is a slow and inefficient nightmare. (When my arrete arrived in Canada back in July I found, after some inspection, some of the documents were dated in May.)
After handing over my documents, I was told that decision would take 10 days to make. After the waiting period, I should email them for the answer. If yes I would have to make another appointment to come in for the visa and if no, well, I guess I will be taking an extended French vacation and a slightly more imminent existential crisis.
The consulate official gave me back my passport with a slip of paper inside with my request number. I asked the consulate official if the wait was 10 business or just 10 days. “Just 10 regular days,” she assured me. I left the office and rode the elevator down to go reacquaint myself with Toronto. As I stood in the lobby putting away my things I took out the slip of paper in my passport. “10 business days.” it said.
Foreign students can also apply for residency when their student visas expire
The federal government plans to “substantially increase” the number of foreign students it allows into the country this year.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney made the announcement Friday. He didn’t say how many more students will be lured here, but noted Australia allows 10 times more students from India than Canada does.
Kenney said Canadian universities are pressing for more foreign students because they pay the highest tuition fees, making them “a source of revenue.”
He said foreign students would have a chance to understand Canada’s labour market and languages, and put themselves on a “much faster pathway” to immigration.
Under a program launched last year, foreign students are eligible to apply to become permanent residents when their visas expire.
Kenney also said he expects a major reduction in the number of temporary foreign workers allowed into Canada because of the slowing economy and rising unemployment.
- The Canadian Press