Unwelcoming Canada: How Visa Issuance Affects Canada-Africa Research Collaboration

Are Canada’s visa policies an obstacle to Canada-Africa research collaboration? The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada has awarded an Insight Development Grant to Dr. Meredith Terretta (University of Ottawa), Dr. Abdoulaye Gueye (University of Ottawa), Dr. Sarah Katz-Lavigne (University of Bayreuth), and Dr. Nadège Compaoré (University of Toronto) to find out. The interdisciplinary, multilingual team gathers research expertise in legal history, human rights, international relations, critical race studies, sociology and political science to examine patterns in Canada’s issuance of visas of entry to African academics and PhD-level students, to understand the challenges visa policies and practices pose to research collaboration, PhD training and knowledge mobilization between Canada and Africa.

No Entry Barrier

Even as Canadian research institutions make strides towards internationalization and Canada seeks to secure a leading role in the global knowledge economy, Canada’s issuance of temporary residence visas (TRV) declined in recent years for every region outside of Europe, and most markedly for travelers from any of the 55 countries of the continent of Africa, all of which are on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada (IRCC)’s list of 148 visa-required countries. Is Canadian immigration policy out of sync with internationalization in Canadian higher education? Or are African researchers and scholars, viewed as outsiders in a global knowledge economy, deliberately being excluded from Canada’s internationalization trends? Moreover, because the francophone population of Africa is approximately 430.5 million and is projected to reach 850 million--an estimated 85% of French speakers worldwide--by 2050, high rates of TRV refusal to Africans pose a particular challenge to francophone initiatives for internationalization in Canada’s higher education and research.

Dr. Terretta and her team will build on relationships with academic and civil society networks across Canada to mobilize an advisory group to make evidence-based recommendations to IRCC on how to render TRV issuance to African researchers more transparent, predictable, and generative of dynamic research partnership and exchange.

The project is also supported by the Gordon F. Henderson Chair in Human Rights (currently held by Dr. Terretta) and the Human Rights Research and Education Centre (University of Ottawa). Abarna Selvarajah (University of Toronto) currently serves as the project assistant.

Please see the background report that Drs. Katz-Lavigne and Terretta submitted to the Minister of Immigration and IRCC in March 2019 for more context.

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