News -- March 2003

Landed Immigrants in Canada and Bermuda No Longer Permitted to Enter the US without a Visa

The Departments of Homeland Security and State have issued interim rules that require nationals of Ireland and British Commonwealth countries living as permanent residents in Canada and Bermuda to obtain visas to enter the U.S. The rules, which were published on January 31, 2003, became effective on March 17, 2003.


Prior to promulgation of the new rules, Canadian Landed Immigrants and permanent residents of Bermuda who are nationals of Ireland or one of the 53 Commonwealth countries had been permitted to enter the US for business or pleasure trips without a visa.


As of March 17, permanent residents of Canada and Bermuda from most Commonwealth nations, including India, New Zealand, Nigeria, and Pakistan, must obtain a visa in their passport from a U.S. Consulate prior to entering the U.S. Nationals of six of the listed countries (Australia, Brunei, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom) can still avoid the new visa requirement by taking advantage of the Visa Waiver program, which is available for business and tourist visitors only. The Visa Waiver program does not authorize employment in the U.S.


Citizens and nationals of Canada and Bermuda will still be permitted to enter the U.S. without a visa. It is estimated that the new rules will affect approximately 1 million permanent residents of Canada, and a smaller number in Bermuda. The Immigration Service and Department of State expect that the new rules will help to screen out applicants who pose a threat to national security.


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