March 5, 2020

How President Trump’s Expanded Travel and Visa Restrictions Could Affect Canadian Immigration

Posted by Athena Portokalidis - Bellissimo Law Group PC

By way of an Executive Order made in March 2017, President Trump initially identified several countries as subject to travel restrictions to the United States of America (USA): Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq.[1] This list was subsequently modified and now acts to impose restrictions on the following countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and North Korea.[2] Effective as of 21 February 2020, the USA has identified six additional countries upon which to impose new travel restrictions, bringing the total to thirteen countries identified for travel restrictions.[3] The six new countries identified include Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.[4] While these restrictions are not meant to affect the ability of individuals’ from these countries to remain in the USA temporarily, the intention is to prohibit these individuals from securing permanent status in the USA.[5] 

If history is an indication of how the expansion mentioned above to the ability of individuals to immigrate to the USA permanently, this could mean an influx of immigration applicants to Canada. After President Trump’s 2017 restriction was imposed, Canada saw the increase of study permit applicants from Iran alone increase by over 10,000 applicants.[6] Even people who have obtained permanent status in the USA may opt to immigrate to Canada, as their family members that remain overseas will be prohibited from joining them permanently in the USA.[7] Robert Falconer, an immigration researcher at the University of Calgary, predicts that Canada will see an increase in high-skilled individuals seeking to immigrate to Canada.[8] Individuals from countries not affected by the travel and visa restrictions in the USA may also consider immigrating to Canada over the USA “lest their applications be suddenly ripped up because of a new Trump policy.”[9]

With potentially more applicants interested in immigrating to Canada permanently in the future, it remains to be seen how this will affect processing times for applications made to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and whether programs such as Express Entry will become more competitive.