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An analysis of Canadian travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak

Update: On March 18, 2020, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that Canada and the United States had agreed to temporarily close the Canada-US border to non-essential travel, in order to preserve “critical” supply chains between the two countries. President Trump also announced this temporary closure in a tweet on March 18, 2020. Prime Minister Trudeau confirmed that travel for the purposes of recreation and tourism will be prohibited. Both Prime Minister Trudeau and President Trump have also stated that trade will not be affected. However, very little details have been provided regarding what will be considered essential travel. It is also not known at this time whether this measure will apply only to the land ports of entry or if it will modify the existing air travel ban that is already in effect.

Please click here to read the full Dentons client alert.

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An analysis of Canadian travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak

An overview of United States travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak (United States)

President Trump has recently issued several Presidential Proclamations in response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, which have restricted the ability of foreign nationals to travel to the United States. Dentons immigration partner, Henry Chang (who is based in our Toronto office) provides a summary of the US travel restrictions that have resulted from the COVID-19 outbreak (that the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020). Please click here to read the full Dentons client alert.

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An overview of United States travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak (United States)

E-1 Visas for Canadian production companies

Canadian production companies that sell films and/or television productions to US-based companies (including US studios, independents and streaming services) can face difficulties when sending their key personnel to the United States. The issue frequently arises when some or all of the Canadian production is scheduled to take place on location in the US. 

Canadian production companies often focus on traditional US work permit categories that were created with the film and television industry in mind, such as the O-1B for aliens of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry, or the O-2 for related essential support personnel. However, these categories are relatively difficult to use and many foreign nationals will be unable to satisfy the onerous eligibility requirements.

Fortunately, the E-1 (treaty trader) category is a viable alternative to the O-1B and O-2 categories. Despite this fact, Canadian production companies tend to overlook the E-1 category, because it was initially intended for entrepreneurs rather than the film and television industry. For a brief overview of E-1 eligibility requirements and to read the full article please click here.

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E-1 Visas for Canadian production companies

DHS commences pilot project to collect DNA from certain travellers

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced a pilot project to collect DNA samples from certain travellers, which commenced on January 6, 2020.

This announcement has prompted questions from Canadians (and other foreign nationals), who are concerned that they may be required to provide a sample of their DNA when travelling to the United States. Although privacy advocates are concerned about this mandatory collection of DNA, the pilot project, as it presently stands, may not be a significant departure from current practices. Please click here to read the full article.

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DHS commences pilot project to collect DNA from certain travellers

The Government of Canada implements its New Preclearance Act

Effective August 15, 2019, the Preclearance Act of 2016 gives enhanced powers to US Customs and Border Protection officers working in preclearance areas located in Canada, much to the chagrin of many concerned Canadians. The Act was implemented in furtherance of the Preclearance Agreement, a treaty signed by Canada and the US in 2015. Please click here to read the Dentons client alert.

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The Government of Canada implements its New Preclearance Act

Immigration consequences of Canadian criminal offences

Many Canadian criminal cases have potentially adverse consequences for immigration status. Accordingly, when a criminal lawyer in Canada represents a client who is not Canadian citizen, it is imperative that the lawyer consider the two distinct grounds of criminal inadmissibility described in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act 1 (IRPA)—A36(1), which addresses “serious criminality” and applies to both foreign nationals and permanent residents, and A36(2), which addresses “criminality” and applies only to foreign nationals. For a discussion by Dentons Toronto immigration partner Henry Chang on their respective implications, as well as the impacts of federal, provincial and juvenile offenses, as well as conditional sentences, please click here.

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Immigration consequences of Canadian criminal offences

How US federal cannabis legalization would affect US immigration law

During the 115th US Congress, several bills were introduced to legalize marijuana at the federal level. Those receiving the most attention were: (1) the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act (STATES Act); (2) Marijuana Justice Act of 2017/Marijuana Justice Act of 2018 (Marijuana Justice Act); and (3) the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act (Marijuana Freedom Act). While all three died when the Congress ended on January 3, 2019, they are likely to be reintroduced (without change) during the 116th Congress. For our analysis of how they might affect the ability of foreign nationals to enter the United States, click here.

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How US federal cannabis legalization would affect US immigration law

An overview of Canada’s Start-Up Business Class

Many foreign nationals are now aware that US immigration policies are more restrictive than in years past. For example, to protect the economic interests of US workers, President Trump issued an executive order directing government agencies to rigorously enforce and administer immigration laws. Meanwhile Canada remains relatively open to accepting new immigrants and, according to a report published by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, could accept as many as 1.1 million in total in the years 2019 through 2021. As a result, many foreign entrepreneurs who might otherwise have permanently settled in the US are instead considering Canada. Dentons partner, Henry Chang (who is based in our Toronto office) has provided a detailed discussion of Canada’s Start-Up Business Class, a permanent residence option for innovative foreign entrepreneurs. The full article appears here.

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An overview of Canada’s Start-Up Business Class

Proposed change to afford certain temporary foreign workers with increased mobility

A proposed amendment to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) would provide increased employment mobility to certain foreign workers under the Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program. It still remains to be seen whether Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada will move forward with the amendment, and whether there is any appetite to provide similar changes to programs used to employ more highly-skilled foreign workers. To view the article on this proposed amendment, written by a member of our Toronto Employment and Labor team, click here.

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Proposed change to afford certain temporary foreign workers with increased mobility

Trade deals and immigration

How will future trade deals impact UK immigration policy?

With Brexit negotiations between the UK and the European Union progressing, the UK is keen to start trade talks with the EU as soon as possible. While a trade deal with the EU is a priority, other countries, including India and Australia, have expressed that, in the fullness of time, they also would like to negotiate their own trade deals with the UK.

The UK’s Brexit Secretary, David Davis, has stated that he is looking for a “Canada Plus Plus Plus” trade deal with the EU, a reference to the recent deal between the EU and Canada. Labor mobility is a key element of that deal, making it easier for certain skilled professionals from Canada to work temporarily in the EU, and vice versa.

We can also learn from other trade deals:

  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal currently being negotiated between 11 Pacific Rim countries (notably not including the US, which withdrew from the pact) is also looking to include an element of labor mobility. For example, it is proposed as part of this deal that it will be easier for Australian employers to recruit people from Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico and Vietnam by exempting them from the usual requirement of advertising the role to Australians as part of the immigration process. In return, Australians will get reciprocal access to the labor markets of these six countries.
  • Likewise, one of the outcomes of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUFTA), which came into effect in 2005, was the US E-3 visa, which is available only to Australians. The E-3 visa is similar to the H1-B visa, however more generous in that it has a separate quota of 10,500, is renewable indefinitely and has the additional benefit of the spouse of the main visa holder being able to work. In contrast, the H1-B visa has a quota of 65,000 (for applicants of all other nationalities), is capped at six years and the spouse of the main visa holder is not able to work. Singapore and Chile enjoy similar preferential immigration routes to the US as a result of their free trade deals.

One of the key arguments for voting to leave the EU was that the UK would be able to negotiate its own trade deals. So what are our likely trading partners saying?

  • Australia has spoken of the need for “greater access” to the UK for Australian business people.
  • India has already stated that the UK will need to relax immigration rules and make it easier for professionals and presumably students from India to come to the UK.
  • The EU is another matter entirely with many competing priorities and parties. The degree of labour mobility post Brexit will depend on whether we see a “soft Brexit” or a “hard Brexit”, which is still very much to be decided.

What is certain is that any trade deal the UK negotiates after Brexit will be about more than goods and services. Labor mobility will be a key element and it is therefore inevitable that any future trade deals the UK agrees will have an impact on immigration policy.

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Trade deals and immigration