Voice Your Opinion on Crossing the Border with Canada

Message from:  Edith St-Hilaire
Consul and Senior Trade Commissioner / Consul et délégué commercial principal
Consulate General of Canada / Consulat général du Canada
1501 Fourth Avenue, Suite 600, Seattle WA
(206) 770-4075

On February 4, 2011, the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of the United States issued a Declaration on a Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, which called for the development of a joint action plan.  Work on that plan has now been successfully completed.  The Action Plan released December 7, 2011 provides a practical road map for enhancing security while speeding up legitimate trade and travel across the Canada-U.S. border.

The Action Plan will enhance the benefits of programs that help trusted traders and travelers move efficiently across the border and will introduce new measures to facilitate movement and trade across the border, while reducing the administrative burden for business and investing in improvements to our shared border infrastructure and technology.  The full text of the Action Plan is available here.

A key deliverable of the “Trade Facilitation, Economic Growth, and Jobs” pillar of the Shared Vision is the commitment to facilitate the conduct of cross-border business.  To that end, the Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney and the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano are initiating joint consultations with stakeholders on ways to improve the application of the rules on temporary access for business travelers.  These consultations will be conducted by an independent third party in three phases:  Secretary Napolitano led a session with stakeholders in Washington on May 14, Minister Kenney led a similar session in Toronto on May 24, and an on-line consultation process has been opened for submissions from all interested stakeholders for 30 days starting May 14, 2012.

The stakeholder meetings in Washington, D.C. and Toronto were by invitation and intended to cover the larger stakeholder groups.  However it is our goal to encourage as many Canadian and U.S. business people, associations, and companies including small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to contribute to the on-line consultation process as possible.  Given recent consultations on labor mobility into Canada, the Canadian government has been made aware of many of the problems being faced by our businesses and we are confident that substantial input will be received regarding difficulties entering Canada.

However, as this is a unique chance to have the U.S. government hear from stakeholders on Canada-U.S. cross-border mobility, we want to ensure that the challenges faced by Canadians and their partners in the U.S. are also given adequate attention.  In particular, we are hoping to encourage Canadian business people who have had challenges entering the U.S. for work purposes, or American businesses that have had challenges getting Canadian partners into the U.S., to participate in these consultations.

As you may be aware, some Canadian business people and their U.S. partners have been voicing their dissatisfaction with the ability to cross the U.S. border for work purposes for many years.  From inconsistent treatment to inadequate access (for example, the exclusion of certain professions from the TN Visa eligibility list), these problems have impacted the ability of Canadians and their American partners to conduct business across the border and therefore North American prosperity.  While individual complaints have been heard, this is the first opportunity to have an independent third party collect and summarize the issues being faced at the border.

This consultation is a unique chance to have these challenges heard and potentially addressed directly by both governments.  It is important for businesses not to miss this opportunity, as it is unclear when or how these issues may be addressed in the future.  

The on-line consultations will be conducted through the Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security websites at the following addresses:

Consultations will be open from May 14 until June 13, 2012.

If you or anyone you know has an interest in this matter, we strongly encourage you to participate.