The US Supreme Court has ruled that President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which targets visa applicants from six specific Muslim-majority countries, may go into effect “with respect to foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”
It should be noted that since President Trump’s initial effort to ban certain people from the US based on nationality, which was rolled out chaotically in January, the government of Canada has reaffirmed that no such provision exists in Canada. Individuals wishing to come to Canada, either temporarily or permanently, are not subject to the US travel ban, and Canada assesses visa applications based on set criteria that do not include a ban on certain nationalities.
The ban would apply to citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. President Trump stated last week that the ban would go into effect within three days of the court ruling.
The Supreme Court justices, in effect, ruled that foreign nationals from these countries with ties or relationships in the US would not be banned from entering the country. Affected individuals applying for visas who had never been to the US, or had no family, business or other ties, could be prohibited.
The Supreme Court is the highest federal court in the US, and its decision overturns lower court orders that blocked implementation of the travel ban.
The March 6 order, which followed an earlier order that also included Iraqi citizens, called for a 90-day ban on travelers from the six countries listed above, as well as a 120-day ban on all refugees. The US government stated that this would enable stronger vetting procedures to be implemented.
The Supreme Court has stated that it will hear arguments this October relating to two cases taken in Virginia and California, respectively, in which lower courts blocked the travel ban. Both bans are now due to partly go into effect in 72 hours, based on a memorandum issued by the Trump administration on June 14.
While this week’s court decision may be seen as a partial victory for the Trump administration, it is unlikely that the confusion over the ban is over. Indeed, two justices dissented from part of the court’s opinion, noting that exactly who has a “bona fide relationship” with the US will prove difficult to determine.
“Today’s compromise will burden executive officials with the task of deciding — on peril of contempt — whether individuals from the six affected nations who wish to enter the United States have a sufficient connection to a person or entity in this country,” wrote Justice Clarence Thomas.
Earlier this year, a number of permanent residents of Canada were left in limbo after the federal Minister of Immigration, noting that his department had spoken to officials in the US, stated that permanent residents and dual citizens of Canada would not be affected. However, it was soon found that US border officials on the ground were not only denying entry to such individuals, but in some cases cancelling their US visas.
Many visitors to the North American continent spend time in more than one country during the course of their visit. In many cases, a visit may include time spent in the US as well as Canada.
Current and future visitors to North America should note that their permission to enter Canada is not affected by the US travel ban. However, alternative travel arrangements may need to be made as a result.
Moreover, Canada’s permanent immigration programs do not assess individuals based on their nationality. For many decades, Canada has offered a range of economic and family reunification programs with criteria that do not include assessing a person based on nationality. The federal economic immigration programs are managed under the Express Entry immigration selection system, through which more and more immigrants are charting a pathway to permanent residence.
In addition, the government of Canada was successful in resettling 46,700 refugees in 2016 alone, with more coming through 2017. Of course, nationality is a potential factor when assessing a refugee file, but it is notably that Syrians, who make up the majority of recent refugee arrivals to Canada, are one of the national groups banned from entering the US under the travel ban.
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