Are the Mexicans Coming?
While Canada has watched a little smugly from the sidelines, the U.S. has struggled with immigration reform. Especially as it pertains to illegal immigrants, many of them from Mexico. But that might change starting December 1, 2016. Why?
Starting on that date, if you are a Mexican citizen and want to travel to Canada, you will no longer have to apply for a visa. You will instead, apply for an eTA, or Electronic Travel Authorization. As we have explained previously, the eTA is for citizens from countries that do not require visas to travel to Canada, with the exception of citizens of the USA, who do not require eTAs or visas to visit.
As Prime Minister Trudeau announced the measure alongside Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, one has to keep in mind the enormous influence of the U.S. on both countries. With the possible election of Donald Trump as president in early November, could Canada become a haven for Mexicans who are now living in the USA and would be unwilling to return to their homeland?
What if Mexicans Self-Deport to Canada instead of Mexico?
- As the documents supporting the agreement signed by Trudeau and Peña Nieto show, around 170,000 Mexicans travel north to Canada on an annual basis. What if a significant percentage of them decided to stay in Canada? If only 10% of those travellers decide to stay, that would be 17,000 additional immigrants each year – many illegals perhaps – deciding to work and live in Canada.
- The visa requirement for Mexicans was instituted by the Conservatives in 2009 as a measure against a supposed increase in supposedly “bogus” refugee claims by Mexican visitors to Canada. What will Justin Trudeau’s government do if suddenly thousands of Mexicans start claiming they are refugees from police brutality and political corruption in Mexico? How would Justin’s new best friend forever, President Peña Nieto, feel about Canada suddenly reversing course and labelling Mexico as a human rights abuser? That’s not likely to happen. So if you’re a Mexican citizen thinking of starting a new life in Canada, maybe the refugee route is not the best choice.
- Now we also have the problem of Trump possibly being elected and going ahead with his plans to build a wall. As well as to re-negotiate NAFTA. Assuming he does get elected – not an overwhelming possibility – you have the problem of how he could enact these measures faced with a hostile Congress (whether Democrat or Republican). But regardless whether any actual measures get passed or not, you could have thousands of Mexican residents of the USA trying to leave the U.S. and move directly to Canada. And that could cause an immigration crisis that could last for years.
Nice country but wouldn’t want to live here
There are, however, several reasons why Mexicans might not be flowing over the border into Canada in the tens of thousands every year starting December 1, 2016:
- Alberta is not Texas. Ontario is not Arizona. Saskatchewan is not New Mexico. B.C. is not California, no matter how many times Greater Vancouver gets to pretend it is in some TV series shot in Canada. In other words, unlike the border-states in America, there are not large, well-established Latino (especially Mexican) communities that new arrivals can easily integrate into. To live and work in Canada, you need to be functional in English or French. Or both. Right off the bat. Or you don’t work.
- Canadian businesses do not tend to hire illegal immigrants as workers, the way they do in the US. So a job under the table in Canada is much harder to find.
- Winter in Canada is not people in Malibu putting on parkas when the temperature drops below 20° Celsius. It’s real and cold. And there’s even snow. Sometimes lots of it. Canada is nothing like Mexico and adapting to Canadian culture is a bigger ask than settling in to your apartment in San Antonio, Texas, with 12 close cousins already living in the neighbourhood.
What does this mean for Mexicans who want to visit Canada?
If you are a Mexican citizen living in the USA, then you are eligible for an eTA to travel to Canada. But:
- You must be a Lawful Permanent Resident of the United States.
- You must have a valid Alien Registration Card (Green Card).
- You must have a valid Mexican passport.
- You must have a valid Credit Card.
- You need to have an internet connection.
That means that if you’re living illegally in the U.S. (indocumentado) then you’re out of luck. No Green Card. No eTA. Sorry. Mexicans living illegally in the USA, would have to move back to Mexico to be able to apply for an eTA from December 1, 2016 onwards.
If you are a Mexican citizen and reside in Mexico or abroad (excluding the USA) then:
- Up to and including November 30, 2016, you will need to apply for a visa to visit Canada.
- From December 1, 2016 onward you may apply for an eTA.
- You will need a valid passport.
- You will need a valid Credit Card.
- You will need an internet connection.
Go here to read our article on how to apply for an eTA for more information.