After a weekend of confusion following U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order to temporarily suspend immigration from seven specific countries, it now appears that dual citizens of those countries and Canada will be able to travel to the U.S. The countries in question are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya. The ban is due to run for 90 days, though in the case of Syrian refugees the ban is indefinite.
Permanent residents of Canada who are citizens of one of those countries are also expected to be exempt from the executive order, which was signed on January 27. According to the latest information from both sides of the border, these individuals may enter the U.S. provided they have a valid Canadian Permanent Resident Card and a passport from one of the seven affected countries, and be otherwise admissible to the country. (Update: since this article was first published, it has been reported that some Canadian dual citizens and permanent residents have been denied entry to the U.S., despite the Minister’s remarks.)
On Saturday, January 28, a number of reputable media outlets in Canada reported that the opposite would be true. The Canadian Press, whose content is syndicated across media including the National Post and Global News, among others, reported that Canadian dual citizens and permanent residents would not be able to enter the U.S. while the ban is in effect.
However, the situation was clarified the next day by Canada’s recently-appointed Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, who held a news conference in Ottawa to try to clear up some of the confusion created by the American ban.
“The American administration has confirmed that Canadian dual nationals are not affected by this executive order. Moreover, we have been assured by the White House that Canadian permanent residents with a valid Canadian Permanent Resident Card and a passport from [one of] those seven countries can still enter as before,” stated Hussen, who happens to be a Somali refugee who gained Canadian citizenship 15 years ago.
“We are aware that the executive order does apply to those from the seven countries transiting through Canada. Let me assure those who may be stranded in Canada that I will use my authority as minister to provide them with temporary residency if they need it, as we have done so in the past.”
Minister Hussen went on to reveal that there are around 35,000 dual citizens of Canada and the countries specified by the Trump administration.
The American immigration ban goes further with regard to refugees from Syria. Trump’s order directs the U.S. State Department to stop issuing visas to Syrian nationals and halts the processing of Syrian refugees indefinitely. This is in stark contrast to the Canadian position, which actively promotes and expedites the resettlement of Syrian refugees. Around 40,000 Syrian refugees have been settled in Canada since the Trudeau government took office in November, 2015.
Canada remains open
“There is a certain poignancy in the fact that Minister Hussen is the new face of Canada’s immigration project. Imagine if those initial reports had been true, and Canadian dual citizens of those affected countries were banned under this under. If there was no diplomatic exception for high-level government officials, then Canada’s Minister of Immigration would himself have been banned from traveling to Canada’s largest trading partner,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“The whole thing is a carry over from the disturbing campaign promise to ban Muslims from entering the United States. The order has been delivered by a week-old administration that has quickly become drunk on power. The silver lining is that Canada has a government that espouses compassion and fairness, both in its words and its actions. Long may that continue.”
A final note
It should be noted that the American immigration executive order does not change Canada’s immigration policy. Minister Hussen stated that Canada “will continue a long-standing tradition of being open to those that seek entry . . . And also view immigration as a great, great way to boost our economic growth and the prosperity of all Canadians.”
Canadian dual citizens and permanent residents from the affected countries wishing to travel to the U.S. are encouraged to ensure that they have the correct documentation required. If you need legal advice or services, please use this contact page to consult with a legal expert.
Persons in the U.S. affected by this order may explore Immi, a free online program that seeks to educate immigrants, people on visas, and green card holders on their legal status, as well as explain options for staying in or leaving the U.S. Click here to learn more.
(Update: Since this article was first published, the government of Canada has temporary public policy for foreign nationals affected by the U.S. Executive Order. To learn more, read this news article.)
If you wish to know more about your Canadian immigration options, please fill out a free online assessment form.
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