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9 February 2017

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Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

– Emma Lazarus

Ironically, the above quote is featured on the Statue of Liberty at Liberty Island in the New York City harbour where America welcomed hundreds of thousands of new immigrants to the United States. It might just as well be featured at Canadian ports of entry, as thousands of US alien residents and asylum seekers are considering alternative immigration strategies in their futures. President Trump’s Executive Order restricting visas to nationals from seven specified nations, has only intensified concern for many currently in the US and has focused attention on alternative immigration options to Canada.

Corporate Instability – Canada as a safe haven for employers

In addition to visa limitations, Trump has also raised the spectre of re-negotiating trade agreements such as NAFTA. NAFTA doesn’t just deal with trade of goods, but also with trade in services which means the exchange of foreign workers. While it remains to be seen how and how quickly, President Trump intends to review and/or revise NAFTA, there are other options for US employers looking to maintain a stable work force.

The Intra-Company Transferee work permit

It is relatively straightforward to establish a Canadian branch, subsidiary or affiliate corporate entity (although there may be both financial and tax implications to consider). Once a Canadian company is legally established, it is possible for employers to transfer workers to their new Canadian location whether from a US or other international location with an Intra-Company Transferee work permit (ICT). The primary considerations in transferring workers under the ICT provisions are that they must have been employed on a full time basis for one year within the last three years and have worked as an Executive, Manager, or a Specialized Knowledge worker. It is the specialized knowledge worker category that faces the greatest scrutiny and it is necessary to demonstrate that there is a unique and/or proprietary feature to the work that they are performing that necessitates their presence in Canada and couldn’t be performed generally by someone in the Canadian labour market. The high-tech sector is a good example of an industry that could benefit from this application category.

Studying in Canada

Many international students are also concerned about their ongoing status in the US. There have been reports of several Canadian universities and colleges fast tracking the application process to allow for the speedy transfer of international students to Canadian educational institutions in the aftermath of President Trump’s travel restrictions. The study permit option is not only a relatively speedy way to come to Canada, but it also provides a path to permanent residence in the future. A student must demonstrate that they have the financial means to cover the cost of their education and their stay in Canada as well as demonstrate a genuine purpose for their studies.

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program

A joint initiative of the Canadian government and the four Atlantic provinces to deal with chronic labour market shortages in the Maritime’s, this employer-driven program aims to match Canadian employers with workers and prospective immigrants. The program is open to workers in management, professional, technical and skilled trades occupations as well as to some lower skilled occupations. It is also open to international graduates who may not have any work experience. Starting next month, the program is targeting up to 2000 applicants for 2017 who have the intention of both working and settling permanently in the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Special Measures for Foreign National affected by the US Executive Order

On February 3, 2017 Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship implemented a public policy to assist nationals who may be stranded as a result of President Trump’s Executive Order. The public policy allows nationals from the seven countries listed, to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit to Canada or to extend their stay from within Canada, waiving the usual fee requirements. Individuals must demonstrate how they are affected by the US order and must also meet Canada’s admissibility criteria, such as not having a criminal record.

Increase in Refugee Claimants from the US

There have been numerous reports across the country of increases of refugee claimants from the US entering in to Canada both post election and a further spike of crossings following the Executive Order. Many Canadian refugee advocates and academics are calling for Canada to cancel the “Safe Third Country” agreement it has with the US to ensure full and fair access to a refugee hearing for claimants from one of the seven listed countries. So far Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Ahmed Hussen has yet to sever this agreement with the US, but as a former Somali refugee himself, you can be assured that he is giving this serious consideration.

The Trump Presidency continues to shake things up not only In the United States but around the world. Canada has taken some immediate steps to assist those caught stranded as a result of Trump’s executive order. In addition, there are ongoing features of Canada’s immigration program that can provide opportunities for both US employers and individual applicants who are looking for a more secure future in the new Trump world order. Love him or hate him, there is no doubt that President Trump is a Canadian immigration lawyer’s dream come true!

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