A Closer Look

Mexican Migration to Canada – Those gaining permanent resident status (about 3,000 or so) is much smaller on an annual basis than the flow of temporary foreign workers

Emigration from Mexico to Canada has been considerably less examined than to the United States, which is by far the overwhelming destination for Mexican migrants. Yet this migration reveals some significant differences: Mexicans who obtain permanent resident status tend to have similar educational attainment as other immigrant groups in Canada, a significant contrast with those in the United States, where Mexicans have lower levels of education.

However, the number of Mexicans gaining permanent resident status (about 3,000 or so) is much smaller on an annual basis than the flow of temporary foreign workers. The Canadian agricultural sector, for example, employs about 24,000 temporary Mexican laborers each year through a formal worker program. (Unlike the United States, Canada does not have a large unauthorized population from Mexico or any other country in the workforce.) While the bilateral agricultural worker agreement dates to 1974, the migration relationship between Canada and Mexico was further strengthened by the 1994 North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which provided greater employment mobility for Mexican and Canadian professionals.

Until mid-2009, Mexicans were able to travel to Canada without a visa. At that time, Canada’s Conservative government, in response to increasing Mexican asylum claims, imposed a visa requirement on all Mexican visitors. Although the visa requirement was removed in December 2016 by the Liberal government, the policy put a strain on the Canada-Mexico migration relationship.

This article analyzes the effects of the visa requirement on permanent and temporary flows. It also describes the demographic profiles and entry status of Mexican permanent residents in Canada, drawing from the authors’ analysis of a restricted-access government dataset to compare Mexicans to the overall immigrant population. Canada prioritizes highly skilled, educated individuals for permanent residency, granting this status to a selective group of Mexicans. More than half of all working-age Mexican permanent residents in Canada have a university degree, and almost 75 percent have at least some postsecondary education. However, most of the Mexicans who enter Canada on temporary status—particularly those in the agricultural sector—are unable to obtain permanent residency and the benefits of that status.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Mexican Migration to Canada: Temporary Worker Programs, Visa Imposition, and NAFTA Shape Flows | migrationpolicy.org


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