On January 27, 2017, United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and suspending all refugee admission for 120 days. The travel ban includes foreign nationals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
For Canadian employers employing temporary or permanent residents who are originally from these countries, there has been significant confusion whether they can still travel to the United States for legitimate work and business functions.
Initially it was thought that foreign nationals from named countries that held permanent residency status in Canada and dual citizens would be affected by the ban, preventing their travel to the United States. However on January 29, 2017, Canadian Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen was given assurances from the White House that foreign nationals from the listed counties who hold a valid passport and a valid Canadian Permanent Resident Card will continue to be granted access to the United States. In addition, dual citizens of Canada and a listed country will be granted access to the United States while holding a valid Canadian passport.
Based on the current statements from the Immigration Minister, Canadian employers should still be in a position to send foreign national employees who are originally from a listed country to the United States, so long as they hold a valid Canadian passport or valid foreign based passport and Canadian Permanent Residency Card. These individuals will still be subject to any non-immigrant visa requirements that may have already been in place prior to the travel ban.
With regard to foreign nationals from a listed country who are employed in Canada on a temporary basis, it is almost certain that the travel ban will apply.
These individuals will be banned from entering the United States even if they hold valid non-immigrant visas that were previously issued.
Further, it should be noted that the lack of oversight in drafting and implementing the travel ban has caused significant confusion and inconsistency in its application at United States’ ports of entry. Although dual citizens and permanent residents of Canada originally from listed countries should be allowed entry to the United States, they may still be incorrectly prevented from boarding flights or entering at ground based border crossings.
Employers should exercise caution if sending any employee to the United States who has ties to a listed country. Employers and foreign national employees from listed countries should also expect increased scrutiny and delays in processing when seeking to enter the United States.