Tougher visa rules for Canadians shelved

By Paul Sperry

WASHINGTON — Bowing to Canadian pressure, the U.S. has put on hold visa requirements for some visitors from Canada, WorldNetDaily has learned.

The rule, set to go into effect Dec. 16, requires
Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Malaysians and citizens of
other British Commonwealth countries living in Canada
as legal permanent residents to obtain a visa before entering the U.S., according to a document prepared by the State Department and obtained by WorldNetDaily.

Like Canadian citizens, Canadian “landed immigrants”
from Commonwealth countries have been exempt from U.S.
visa requirements.

“The requirement for all landed immigrants of Canada to have visas has been put on hold,” said a veteran INS inspector, citing a Nov. 1 memo from the U.S. consul in Calgary.

“The regulation was supposed to be entered into the official register Nov. 1 and is currently on hold,” he added. “This also came from extreme pressure from the Canadian government.”

Ottawa over the past few weeks has protested a new INS policy to fingerprint and photograph certain Arab-Canadians.

The tougher immigration rules are part of a congressionally mandated effort to tighten security to protect America from terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks.

INS sources say the U.S. is moving toward requiring Canadian citizens to show passports in lieu of citizenship cards.

Also, they may be required to complete I-94 entry-exit forms, which would mean they would no longer automatically be allowed to stay in the U.S. for six months, sources say.

The tougher rules are putting a strain on cross-border relations. Canada is one of America’s closet allies and until now has enjoyed the easiest immigration requirements.

Canadian Embassy spokesman Bernard Etzinger argues permanent residents of Canada are subject to the same criminal and terrorist background checks as immigrants applying for Canadian citizenship. He says new U.S. rules imply Canadian security checks are not adequate.

“We also do a similar security screen for permanent residents of Canada,” he told WorldNetDaily.

Here’s the text of the State Department’s directive concerning visa requirements for Commonwealth landed immigrants residing in Canada, which was sent to INS field offices by the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa:

Beginning Dec. 16, 2002, all landed immigrants in Canada must possess a valid passport and non-immigrant visa to enter the United States. This requirement will apply to citizens of the following Commonwealth countries who were formerly exempt from visa requirements:

Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Cyprus, Dominica, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Namibia, Nauru, Nigeria, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, St. Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom (its colonies, territories and dependencies), Vanuatu, Western Samoa, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Citizens of Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK, which participate in the Visa Waiver Program, are not required to possess visas if they are traveling for business or tourism and their stay will be less than 90 days, the document says.

Hong Kong nationals holding either British National Overseas or Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passports will require visas, it says.

Related stories:

Screening of Arab-Canadians remains ‘in force’

INS intensifies screening of certain Arab-Canadians

Saudi panic over Justice memo leads to meeting

INS to vet Indonesia, Malaysia travelers

Saudi Arabia ‘shocked’ to be added to watchlist

U.S. gets tough with Paki, Saudi visitors

INS crackdown yields few foreign fugitives

U.S. holding Canadian teen in Afghanistan

INS terrorist database often crashes

Don’t arrest terrorists, INS tells LAX agents in memo

INS to deport 6,000 Arab aliens on commercial jetliners

Related column:

Saudi suck-ups