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Why closing Canadian visa offices is not the answer to attracting the best and brightest to Canada

Yesterday, Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced it was closing yet another overseas visa office – this time in Seoul, South Korea. This announcement comes on the heels of stories out of the U.S. that major reforms of the U.S. immigration system may be coming. These reforms, if passed, would make the U.S. more competitive in attracting skilled immigrants.

Last year, I argued that the closing of Canadian visa offices overseas was shortsighted. In a world where Canada must compete for the best and the brightest talent, the closing of foreign visa offices literally takes us off the map in these countries.

The reason I chose to work in immigration law over other areas of the law is that I believe that the best way to grow Canada is by attracting the best and the brightest from all over the world to participate in our society. I believe Canada needs immigrants to fill jobs that will become vacant by our aging demographic. By attracting the best and the brightest, we can grow the economy to create a better future for our children.

By reducing Canada’s immigration presence abroad, we allow other countries to fill the gap. As I argued last week, if the U.S. system becomes more welcoming, the chances that Canada can attract the top-tier of immigrants is reduced.

Instead of closing overseas offices, we need an aggressive strategy where government and business goes overseas to attract immigrants. While Canada does take part in job fairs aborad, without a sustained presence on the ground to reinforce the message that Canada wants skilled immigrants, any momentum from participation in week long job fairs will not be sustained.

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About Reis Pagtakhan

Reis Pagtakhan is an immigration law partner with MLT Aikins LLP. His extensive experience includes assisting businesses obtain temporary entry to Canada and permanent residency for their executives, employees and contractors from all over the world. Reis has lectured on and written papers on immigration law for the Law Society of Manitoba, the Manitoba Bar Association, the Human Resources Management Association of Manitoba, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, and the Community Legal Education Association of Manitoba. He has presented position papers before the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Immigration Department officials and Manitoba Labour and Immigration. He has written articles on immigration for the CBC, the Winnipeg Free Press, trade, industry and ethnic publications.

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