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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

U.S. consul general pledges to help speed specialized workers across border

The Windsor Star/Craig Pearson

Recently appointed U.S. Consul General for Ontario Juan Alsace hopes to help workers with specialized expertise cross into the U.S. for work faster.

Alsace told Mayor Drew Dilkens on Wednesday that he will do what he can to make sure visas are not unduly delayed.

“I have committed to see how we can make this an easier process, when possible,” said Alsace, who started a three-year term as the Toronto-based Consul General four months ago. “But the specialized visas that we’re talking about here require some additional background checks.”

Alsace said he will ask a visa expert in his office to visit Windsor soon in order to speak with Dilkens, who raised the issue with the Consul General during a meeting at the mayor’s office.

Dilkens said the problem, however, goes both ways. Sometimes the city needs someone with specific expertise from the Detroit area, say, to help fix something specialized at the Aquatic Complex. But officials sometimes have to jump through hoops to bring that worker into Canada. He said similar problems occur with businesses on both sides of the border.

“On almost a daily basis, there are some issues that arise,” Dilkens said. “Our office and the economic development office are always trying to get specialized-skill workers across the border.”

The meeting between Dilkens and Alsace dealt mostly with the border crossing — whether about people or infrastructure.

Alsace said since he is still new in his position he does not know the latest details about the Gordie Howe International Bridge, nor the proposed twin span for the Ambassador Bridge, which has recently cleared some important regulatory hurdles in the U.S.

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