The U.S. presidential election has been marked by controversial, divisive and occasionally downright ridiculous statements from the candidates, not least of which has been Trump's impossible idea to build a wall between the United States and Mexico and to somehow force the Mexican government to pay for it.
And now with the increased threats from American liberals that they would immigrate to Canada if Trump wins this week's election (such threats happen every four years, I might add), I imagine many Canadians wish they could build a wall between Canada and the U.S. and send the bill to the American government.
But Canada doesn't need to build a wall to keep out those Americans willing to renounce their ties to the U.S. and trade their "freedom fries" for poutine. Because while Canada may have an admirable universal health care system, sensible gun laws and a ridiculously handsome prime minister, Canada's immigration system is broken.
Many Americans -- including celebrities like Chelsea Handler, Bryan Cranston, Barbara Streisand and Lena Dunham -- who have taken to Twitter to express their panic and outrage with this U.S. election and who have threatened to move to the Great White North should have applied to Canada years ago, like I did, if they really wished to immigrate. Because according to the CIC's own website, it now takes more than 26 months for Canada to process a visa for a foreign spouse of a Canadian citizen who is already living inside Canada.
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I have been waiting 27 months, and yet still have not received my residency visa. Meanwhile, I don't have access to Canada's coveted health-care system. I can't legally work or study in the country. I can't even open a bank account.
I met my Canadian husband in 2011 when he was living in New York City. He was working at the Quebec delegation in New York, helping to promote Quebec art and culture in the United States during a three-year posting abroad. I proposed to him in 2013, shortly after the landmark ruling in the United States that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which then paved the way for gay marriage to be recognized across the entire country.
We had all the intention of remaining in the U.S. after our wedding, but when the PLQ regained power in Quebec in the 2014 provincial election, he was offered an amazing job within the Quebec government. It was a career-defining move, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him. Despite having a great job in New York that I enjoyed, it was a no-brainer decision for us as a couple to move to Canada.
We knew that moving to Canada wasn't going to be easy and that the immigration process would be a hurdle. We expected it might take about a year for the Canadian authorities to process my visa application, which is on average with most developed countries in the world. However, we were certainly not expecting a 2.5-year wait, during which time we would have to jump through some of the most ridiculous hoops to meet the requests of the demanding, yet unresponsive, immigration authorities.
Canada's immigration system is broken.
My first year in Canada was a year well spent learning one of the country's two official languages: French. But when my language studies were complete, and my visa was still not processed, I became depressed. I resented my husband's structured day and his ability to go work. And he resented all the time I had to myself and what he viewed as "freedom." But never before had I wanted to have a job so badly. My home felt more like a prison. And for a while, my marriage became strained and full of petty grievances.
This is how Canada treats its immigrants and its citizens who have dared to fall in love with a foreigner. Because while the details of my story may be different than other immigrants to Canada, the general premise of the story remains the same. We have all left our jobs, our friends, and our families in order to establish a new life with the one we love in their homeland. We came to Canada excited to start a new life with our partners, excited about living in a country with a sterling reputation on the international stage.
And yet, the Canadian immigration system has treated us no better than a piece of paper being pushed around in a bureaucratic and inefficient system. This negligence has taken a severe toll on our lives, on our marriages, our sense of worth, our self-esteem, our finances, and even on our mental and physical health.
The Canadian immigration system has failed us and has failed our Canadian partners who have sponsored us to live here. Twenty-six months to process a spousal visa is way too long. It's as ridiculous as Trump's idea to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.
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> Immigrants: 7.3 million > Pct of population: 20.7% > GDP (PPP) per capita 2012: $42,734 > Gov’t immigration goals: Maintain Currently, 7.3 million immigrants live in Canada, equivalent to more than 20% of the nation’s total population. As 2011, the Canadian government was one of the few to propose policies that would increase the level of immigration for the purpose of family unification. The level of immigration, more generally, was considered satisfactory in the same year, according to the U.N. In spite of Canada’s exceptionally liberal immigration policies, there has been concern recently over whether Canada’s immigrants are successfully integrating into society. To avoid the potential social tension that could arise from a growing economic difference between immigrants and locals, the Canadian government has restructured its screening process to emphasize factors such as job skills and language fluency. Read more at 24/7 Wall St.
> Immigrants: 7.4 million > Pct of population: 11.6% > GDP (PPP) per capita 2012: $35,548 > Gov’t immigration goals: Decrease Just 11.6% or France’s roughly 65 million residents are international migrants. According to the U.N. Population division, while the French government promoted some policies aimed at attracting skilled immigrants as of 2011, the governments overall attitude toward immigration was generally negative. As a member of the European Union, France is obligated to support the free movement of EU nationals between the EU nations. In recent years, however, the European Commission has criticized the French government for expelling Roma, popularly called Gypsies, from the country. France’s existing immigrant population is older, with nearly 20% at least 65 years of age, compared to just 11.1% globally. Read more at 24/7 Wall St.
> Immigrants: 7.8 million > Pct of population: 12.4% > GDP (PPP) per capita 2012: $36,941 > Gov’t immigration goals: Decrease About 7.8 million million immigrants live in the U.K., up from just under 6.5 million as of 2010. This is despite the U.K. government’s view, as of 2011, that the large influx of foreigners to the country was somewhat of a problem. The government’s policies intended to lower the level of immigration to the country, including high-skilled workers immigration. Only one of the world’s eight largest destinations for immigrants, the United Arab Emirates, had a higher average annual increase in immigration that exceeded the U.K.’s 4.0%. Although the country’s aging population may actually signal a necessity for more immigrants, British Prime Minister David Cameron has stated that immigration has strained the nation’s public services. Read more at 24/7 Wall St.
> Immigrants: 7.8 million > Pct of population: 83.7% > GDP (PPP) per capita 2012: $49,012 > Gov’t immigration goals: Decrease A stunning 83.7% of UAE residents are international migrants the most of any country in the world, excluding only Vatican City. Between 2010 and 2013, the emirates let in more than 4.5 million migrant workers, more than any other nation in the world. The UAE is able to attract workers to come there because the country is extremely wealthy, with an economy driven by oil and finance. As of 2012, the nation’s per capita GDP exceeded $49,000, on-par with that of the U.S. But despite the nation’s appeal for immigrants, the UAE’s government as of 2011 considered immigration to be too high. Additionally, the country has been criticized for the poor living and working conditions faced by many migrant workers. Read more at 24/7 Wall St.
> Immigrants: 9.1 million > Pct of population: 31.4% > GDP (PPP) per capita 2012: $31,275 > Gov’t immigration goals: Decrease Nearly one-third of Saudi Arabia’s population consists of immigrants, while between 2000 and 2013 the number of immigrants rose by an annual average of 4.2% per year, higher than most other nations. Between 2010 and 2013 alone, the number of immigrants to Saudi Arabia rose 24.3% As of 2011, the Saudi Arabian government regarded the overall level of legal immigration as too high and implemented policies to reduce immigration, according to the UN had. Similarly, the government’s policies on the naturalization of immigrants were also considered restrictive. Recent news reports suggest immigration policy in Saudi Arabia has only become more restrictive with new measures implemented to prevent undocumented workers from finding employment. Read more at 24/7 Wall St.
> Immigrants: 9.8 million > Pct of population: 11.9% > GDP (PPP) per capita 2012: $39,028 > Gov’t immigration goals: Maintain Germany, one of the world’s largest economies, is a popular destination for immigrants. Its well-developed infrastructure and top-rate higher education only add to its attraction. Just under 10 milllion of the country’s 82 million residents are immigrants. As of 2011, Germany’s policies reflected approval of the country’s rate of immigration. In 2012, with the eurozone crisis still unabated, a growing number of young workers immigrated from southern Europe to Germany. But Germany has openly recruited high skilled-workers to live and work in the country permanently, especially as the country’s population ages and shrinks, according to Der Spiegel. Unfortunately, many such workers fail to stay for even as little as a year, and since 2010 the number of immigrants to Germany has actually dropped. Read more at 24/7 Wall St.
> Immigrants: 11.0 million > Pct of population: 7.7% > GDP (PPP) per capita 2012: $17,709 > Gov’t immigration goals: Increase More than 12 million immigrants lived in Russia in 2010 and the Russian government was among the few seeking to increase the number of foreigners entering the country. In 2011, the country’s government viewed immigration as too low and oriented its policies towards increasing immigration. However, these policies have failed to attract more net immigrants: as of this year, there are just over 11 million immigrants living in Russia, a decrease of roughly 10% from 2010. Local authorities have not embraced the prospect of single-ethnicity communities for Chinese, Uzbeks, Tajiks and other ethnic groups in Russia ,and have even sought to ban them in some cases, hoping instead to promote integration into Russian society. Read more at 24/7 Wall St.
> Immigrants: 45.8 million > Pct of population: 14.3% > GDP (PPP) per capita 2012: $49,922 > Gov’t immigration goals: Maintain The U.S. is by far the largest destination for immigrants, with more than 45.7 million living in the country, according to the UN. As of 2011, the U.S. government’s policies toward both immigration and emigration remained effectively neutral. However, immigration reform has been especially prominent in Congress this year. This reform is expected to address issues related to illegal immigration, while determining how, and whether, undocumented immigrants should be able to attain citizenship. Considering the U.S. has one the highest per capita GDPs in the world, at nearly $50,000, its appeal to immigrants is fairly straightforward. It is the world’s largest economy, as measured by output, and has the second largest total exports. Also, the U.S. offers well-developed infrastructure and financial markets, as well as quality education. Read more at 24/7 Wall St.
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