Beyond the Border is an action plan declared by the U.S. and Canada earlier this year which acknowledges that the countries share economic and security needs that are intertwined with border crossings. Does this affect you or your business?

It seems, from the guarded language of the released documents, that U.S. officials will be working closely with Canadian officials to “identify and address shared threats.” We feel that the economic well-being of the countries, held up in no small part by the vast trade that continues between the U.S. and Canada, is a backdrop to all decisions and that it demands easy passage through the borders; the countries are well-aware that security threats might slip through the borders in an effort to ease trade. We need smart border policing: Let the good in and keep the bad out!

Our firm works to assist foreign nationals with a past criminal history to enter Canada. We believe that a country’s security is EVERYONE’s business, yet we also feel that a country’s security is not typically related to a business visitor entering for a conference who might have an entry on his criminal record for a minor past mishap. This is an important distinction that our lawyers are called upon to explain to the Canadian immigration authorities frequently. The immigration rules in Canada are designed to recognize the difference between a non-extensive history of criminality, an applicant with a rehabilitation application, and real security threats. This is wholly appropriate, because a just legal and immigration system requires that people be allowed to rehabilitate themselves, or be evaluated for the true seriousness of their past crimes. Yet the practical reality is that everyone with any minor mark on their record will get stopped and face difficulties when entering Canada.

The Beyond the Border initiative is a commitment to a long-term set of discussions between the governments of the U.S. and of Canada. It is not a trade agreement. We anticipate that the initiative will help increase the flow of shared background information as between the two countries. It will probably take into account the changing nature of security threats and economic growth. When government officials are engaged in dialogue over border security, this may also affect discussions about the economy. It is our hope as lawyers that we can keep up with the ‘mentality’ at the border to better advise clients who are bringing in goods and services.

Lawyers at NPZ’s Canadian Division will monitor the developments that this initiative. Felicia Zeidman, author of this blog, focuses on issues of inadmissibility and criminality for foreign nationals seeking entry to Canada.