If you’re a US-based immigrant looking to enter Canada, or have family members currently trying to enter Canada, this is what you need to know.
Managing immigration to Canada has rarely been a problem. Bordered only by the US to the south, and icy cold waters in every other direction, Canada doesn’t typically have a geographical location that’s conducive to illegal or unmanageable immigration. For years, our nation has been able to manage a steady flow of mostly legal immigrants who were processed through the system and given an opportunity to enter our nation and start life anew.
The US, on the other hand, has had a much different experience. Centrally located, and surrounded by nations struggling with poverty, corruption, war and natural disasters, the US. has long struggled to manage its borders and incoming refugees. A recent immigration influx, combined with President Trump’s drastic new immigration policies, have now thrown the US. immigration system into turmoil. This in turn is having a clear effect on the Canadian immigration system.
Trump’s Immigration Changes
Since his 2016 inauguration, President Trump has made or proposed several changes to the US immigration system that has left millions of immigrants unsure of their future in the US.
Calling it a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy, Trump’s many changes and proposals include:
- Eliminating the appeals process for asylum seekers
- Restricting the number of asylum applications
- Stripping Haitians, Salvadorans, and other foreigners of their temporary legal status
- Establishing an intensified screening process for refugees while cutting the number of staff members to perform these tasks
- Creating stricter restrictions on the H-1B temporary visa program
- Reducing the number of green cards issued annually, and
- Banning immigration from 8 nations including Venezuela, Iran and Somalia
Many of these changes have had a direct impact on US-based immigrants, causing many to flee to the Canadian border.
Meanwhile, the US – Mexico border is in crisis mode as migrant caravans with thousands of immigrants from nations such as Guatemala and Honduras where drug violence and poverty have reached unimaginable levels have flooded the border with men, women and children looking for refugee status. These caravans, along with Trump’s new policies, have caused a massive backlog in the US immigration system, which means that even those seeking to enter (or stay) in the US legally are experiencing longer waits and more hurdles than usual.
For some, these changes have had an immediate impact and left them scrambling for a new home. Others are holding their breath, waiting to see what will happen, and looking for a Plan B should the need arise.
Unwilling to go back to their unstable home nations, many US-based immigrants are looking to Canada for help. Those who already reside in the US are heading North to the Canadian border. Those at the US-Mexico border are risking pushing through (if they can) and heading straight to Canada where they try to seek asylum.
Immigration to Canada By the Numbers
The US immigration crisis is having a measurable impact on the Canadian immigration system.
- New refugee claims rose 76% from 2016 – 2018
- Since 2016, more than 20,000 immigrants have crossed into Canada through the U.S. border illegally, including thousands of Haitians, Nigerians and Turks
- The Canadian government had to set aside an extra C$173 million in its most recent budget to pay for added security and patrols at the border
- In January of 2018, alone, more than 1,500 immigrants entered Canada seeking asylum
- Roughly 86% of refugee claims are being processed after the usual timeframe
In short, Canada is trying to process more refugees and asylum seekers, experiencing more illegal immigration than ever in its history, and struggling to process applications in a timely manner.
How Canada is Handling the Inflow of Immigrants
Despite the sudden impact on our immigration system, Canada remains determined to provide sanctuary and a new home to those seeking to enter our borders. As a spokesman for the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said, they are “….committed to an efficient and fair asylum system.”
The Canadian federal and local governments are implementing several new initiatives to manage the growing numbers of immigrants. For example, multilingual videos are now available on the asylum process to help immigrants from various nations learn about their options. And a mass text messaging tool called newcomer.info allows organizations to easily share information and updates with refugees and new immigrants.
One of the most significant indicators that Canada is committed to helping new arrivals is that Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board is currently ignoring the time limits for handling refugee and asylum claims. By law, refugee claims are supposed to be processed within 60-days. The recent crisis has made it increasingly difficult to meet those deadlines. The board is working to prioritize claims fairly, working long past the deadlines if they must.
How to Get Help
Migrating to Canada from the US is still possible, but it’s going to require some patience, guidance, and help. If you meet any of the following criteria, lawyers at CKM Law can help:
- A US-based immigrant seeking entrance to Canada
- An immigrant seeking refugee or asylum at the US – Canadian border
- A refugee or asylum claimant facing an appeal
- A Canadian citizen looking to sponsor family members or
- A Canadian-based business seeking to sponsor a work visa
Despite the effects of the US immigration crisis on the Canadian immigration system, Canada’s doors are still open. We can help you navigate the changing processes, speak on your behalf and ensure you have your case heard properly.
We want to hear all your concerns, so we can find answers and solutions for you.
Call us today for more information.