The latest news on Global Employee Mobility - February 28, 2017

February 28th, 2017



Canada-EU agreement ratified by European Parliament

After much debate, the European Parliament approved the Canada-EU trade agreement on February 15th. 58% of the members voted to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), paving the way for the implementation of most of the agreement this coming spring. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the agreement “a progressive trade deal” and added that “trade leads to good middle-class jobs”.

CETA not only drops or phases out nearly all existing tariffs but grants new market access for a wide range of products including agricultural commodities. It also recognizes professional credentials and harmonizes labour and environmental standards between the two trading partners. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, one of many CETA opponents in Canada, argued that this type of trade deal “have actually been reducing wages and working conditions for Canadian workers.”

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Montreal: the world’s best city for student

The fifth edition of the Quacquarelli Symonds Institute (QS) Best student Cities Index has named Montreal the world’s best city for international student among the 100 top student cities.

Bringing an end to Paris’ reign, Montreal has also been named Intelligent Community of the Year, according to QS, and performs well due to the development of its artificial intelligence industry. Cost of life and a decrease in the city’s attractiveness explain the lackluster performance of Paris.

Guy Breton, rector at the Université de Montréal, pointed out that in the present context, researchers prefer Montreal over the United States. “Standards are similar, and we recognize the same academic credentials.”

To learn more, read the complete story here.


US Border agents & social media

The United States are considering increasing the powers of their border agents, providing them with the means to explore in detail the online activities of foreign travellers.

A new question related to the use of social media, which is currently “optional”, has been introduced in an online form used by foreign travellers of some forty countries seeking a visa exemption. Emma Llanso, a free expression rights expert at the Center for Democracy Technology, stated that border agents have demanded smartphone access codes to access their content numerous times, and that requests related to social media have also been reported. Border agents are granted a “significant latitude on how they conduct searches. The real issue here is just how far they can go.”

Read the complete story here.

Bill C-23: more powers for American border officials

Critics of Bill C-23 have argued that it could give more powers to American border officials assigned to conduct pre-clearance in Canada. They stated that it could, among other things, jeopardise the rights of Canadians to put a stop to an interview and to choose to not visit the United States, and might even lead to an arrest.

Nonetheless, Public Safety Canada representatives have said that the Bill does limit the powers of American border agents and that there is no reason to fear the new pre-clearance system at the Canada-US border.

More information is available here.

NASA scientist detained at American border

On January 30th, Sidd Bikkannavar, a US-born American scientist working for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was pressured by US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents to give them his NASA issued phone as well as its access PIN. Despite his numerous efforts to explain that the phone contained sensitive material, the scientist was unable to convince the agents. His smartphone was returned 30 minutes later.

Mr. Bikkannavar has a valid passport and, being a frequent traveler, is enrolled in the Global Entry program, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.

Read the complete story here.