Canadian permanent residents from any of the six countries named in President Donald Trump’s newly revised travel ban could be prevented from entering the United States, according to the new language of the executive order.
Trump signed his new immigration ban Monday that blocks citizens of six Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – from applying for U.S. visas for 90 days. It also suspends the intake of all refugees from entering the country for 120 days, although it won’t affect refugees already formally scheduled for travel.
Unlike his first attempt at a ban – which caused chaos across the country before being struck down by a federal court – the revised order does not apply to permanent U.S. residents or to citizens of Iraq.
However, when it comes to Canadian permanent residents from the six countries they will now have to apply for a “waiver” that could be approved on a “case-by-case basis.”
“Case-by-case waivers could be appropriate in circumstances such as the following… the foreign national is a landed Canadian immigrant who applies for a visa at a location within Canada,” the executive order says.
Immigration lawyers say it is unclear what these ‘waivers’ will look like or how stringent U.S. officials will be in offering waivers to people applying at U.S. consulates in Canadian cities.
“It’s a problem. I would think [these waivers] would be very difficult to get in light of the tone that is going on in the United States,” said Robin Seligman, a Toronto immigration lawyer.
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Permanent residents of Canada are already required to get a visa to travel to the U.S. According to the text of Trump’s new travel ban they would also need an additional “waiver” to get across the border.
What a “waiver” could like remains unclear. Currently, Canadians travelling to the U.S. with criminal records need waivers to get across the border. They can cost US$585 and take roughly six months, according to Roxanne Levine, an immigration based in New York.
“We don’t know the level of scrutiny or review yet that these waivers will undergo,” said Levine, a partner with Tarter, Krinsky & Drogin. “Given the current political climate there will be a higher level of scrutiny than there has been in the past.”
Trump has said the travel measures are designed to protect the country against the threat of terrorism.
According to the order, waivers “could” be granted if “the foreign national has demonstrated to the officer’s satisfaction that denying entry during the suspension period would cause undue hardship, and that his or her entry would not pose a threat to national security and would be in the national interest.”
Canadian officials are currently assessing new travel ban, which comes into effect on March 16, but they say it doesn’t appear to affect Canadian citizens or permanent residents from countries not on the list of six countries.
“Our understanding is that they will be treated at the border as they have been historically,” said Scott Bardsley, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, in an email. “They will be subject to the same admissibility and reporting requirements that have historically been in place at the border, before and after the issuance of the original Executive Order.
“Permanent Residents of Canada who are travelling with a passport from one of the six countries are eligible to apply for a visa and a waiver to the Executive Order from within Canada; those in possession of a valid visa may be granted entry.”
He added the decision to allow entry into America is at the discretion of U.S. immigration officers and there could be delays during the clearance process due to additional screening measures.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada also said it’s reviewing the revised travel ban.
“Canada will work with its counterparts in the United States to clarify the impacts of this order on Canadian citizens and Canadian temporary and permanent residents,” a spokesperson with the ministry said in an email.
Seligman strongly advises permanent residents from the six countries to reconsider travel to the States.
“Unless travel is urgent I wouldn’t be travelling to the U.S. anytime soon, unfortunately,” she said. “Until the stormy situation calms down I would be very cautious.”
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Trump’s ban was swiftly criticized as being unconstitutional; with the American Civil Liberties Union calling it “Muslim Ban 2.”
In the House of Commons Monday, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair called the revised travel ban “racist” and asked whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau still considered the U.S. a safe country for refugees. The NDP have been pressuring the federal government to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement, arguing it endangers lives by forcing asylum seekers to cross into Canada outside official border points.
Trudeau said Canadians expect his government to work with the Trump administration to promote economic growth and stand up for Canadian values.
“We are an open and welcoming country and we continue to demonstrate that we truly believe diversity is a source of strength, that it helps cohesive and resilient communities create better opportunities,” Trudeau said.
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