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Running to Canada

by Anna Boryczewski

During the past several months, there has been a rush of immigrants from the US to Canada. These immigrants have been living in the US illegally and now fear government repercussions for falling out of legal status.

The increasing flow of immigrants trying to cross into Canada is mainly attributed to the recent enforcement of the special registration program applying to certain foreign national males holding non-immigrant visas, part of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS). When this registration law was enacted, it only affected 5 nations but has since expanded to incorporate 25 countries, with 24 being an Arab or Muslim country.

Specifically, the special registration law has significantly affected Pakistani foreign nationals. Pakistan is a key ally of the US and responded with immediate resistance when their country was added to the programís list. The majority of Pakistani nationals living illegally in the US is a direct result of individuals overstaying a visa and not having an opportunity to renew through family or employment.

Now, these individuals fear being deported back to Pakistan and many are attempting to cross over to Canada and apply for asylum. A major benefit is that Canada, unlike the US, allows the immigrant to begin working while their asylum application is being processed.

The New York Times has reported on this recent influx of asylum applications at the Canadian border, especially among Pakistanis. For example, The Times states that back in January, 871 people applied for asylum at a port of entry into Ontario, of which 49 percent were Pakistani. Compared to November 2002, when only 5 percent of the people applying for asylum were Pakistani nationals.

There are very limited options for immigrants that are no longer in status and must register with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), formerly the INS. These individuals know that if they register with the government, they will be deported. Therefore, the increasing trend is to apply for asylum in Canada. However, it is becoming a Catch-22 situation. The rush of immigrants has triggered a lack of Canadian resources at the border to process the asylum applications firsthand. Canadian officials are then scheduling future appointments to process these applications and sending the immigrant back to the US until that time. The US immigration officers are then detaining that individual returning from Canada on immigration violations and deporting them back to their home country. It is an apparent lose-lose situation for these designated male immigrants who are required to register with the US government.

About The Author

Anna Boryczewski is the editor of, Inc.'s The Voice, a monthly publication complete with timely immigration news and information. Anna can be reached at More information about, immigration processing services for companies, can be found at For more information on VisaPrep, immigration processing technology for attorneys, please visit

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