On January 31, 2020, President Donald J. Trump announced new countries will be added to a travel ban originally enacted by the United States government in a 2017 executive order. Six new countries will be added to the travel travel ban, including Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria. While the U.S. moves to tighten restrictions against Nigeria, Canada is welcoming thousands of Nigerians each year as new permanent residents.
Though Canada and the United States share a border, the two countries do not share much in terms of immigration policies. With different demographics and different understandings of the role of government, Canada and the U.S. have unique needs when it comes to immigration.
Canada, for example, accepts large numbers of new permanent residents each year through economic pathways: a policy move designed to address Canada’s shrinking rate of population increase and need to bolster its workforce. Meanwhile, the United States, with a population nearly ten times that of Canada, has less need for new permanent workers, instead opting to bring in specialized workers on temporary work visas, like the H-1B.
Contrast between Canadian and U.S. immigration policies has never been so stark as during the respective administrations of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Trump. While the U.S. has implemented a series of protectionist policies, limiting immigration to the United States and barring people from certain countries entirely, the Canadian government has continued to increase the numbers of immigrants accepted annually while also continuing to welcome people from every corner of the globe.
Nigeria exemplifies the contrast between Canada and the U.S. While the Trump administration has moved to ban Nigerian immigrants from the country, Canada has been welcoming more and more Nigerian immigrants each year, admitting them through permanent immigration pathways.
How will the U.S. travel ban affect Nigerians?
In the recent expansion of his travel ban, President Trump issued an official proclamation stating that, “The entry into the United States of nationals of Nigeria as immigrants, except as Special Immigrants whose eligibility is based on having provided assistance to the United States Government, is hereby suspended.” Trump’s proclamation cited security concerns, including the ineffective data-sharing techniques used by Nigeria alongside the risk Nigerian citizens pose for terrorism.
As of February 22, 2020, the ban on Nigerian citizens came into effect. Notably, it will only impact Nigerians travelling to the U.S. on pathways to permanent immigration. Nigerians should still be able to travel to the U.S. on certain temporary visas including tourist and student visas. However, with nearly 350,000 Nigerians living the U.S. and family sponsorship accounting for more than half of new U.S. permanent residents, the negative impacts of the ban will reverberate across that community.
Of course, the Trump administration has a history of failing to properly prepare for the introduction of new immigration-related policies, so the exact implications at the border may only be revealed once the policy comes into effect.
Nigerian officials were initially surprised by the announcement that their country would be added to the travel ban. However, following a visit to the White House, Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, expressed his optimism that Nigeria had the potential to quickly address the issues and have itself removed from Trump’s banned list.
Canada: An alternative to the U.S. for Nigerian immigrants
While Nigerians may be experiencing a more difficult time gaining entry to the United States, Canada’s progressive immigration policies welcome thousands of new Nigerians to the country each year. One of the most notable immigration pathways in Canada is the Express Entry immigration system, a pathway to permanent resident status for skilled workers around the world.
In 2018, the most recent year on which data is available, Canada admitted 6,600 Nigerian citizens to Canada through the Express Entry system. This was up from 2,800 the year before, indicating the increasing popularity of Express Entry among Nigerians.
Express Entry is not a pathway for everyone, however. Express Entry uses a competitive points-based system to rank candidates on factors predicting their potential success in Canada, including age, level of education, English or French language proficiency, work experience, and connections to Canada. Only those candidates with the right combination of competitive skills are able to find success through Express Entry.
Young, well-educated Nigerians with skilled work experience have demonstrated their ability to succeed in Express Entry. As an English-speaking country, Nigerians often have a competitive edge over applicants from countries where English is not a primary language, as language test scores play a huge role in Express Entry competitiveness.
Nigerians interested in learning more about Express Entry immigration to Canada can sign up for Moving2Canada’s free Express Entry Roadmap: an email-education service designed to teach users all they need to know about Express Entry.
While the Trump administration is known for snap decisions, making policy predictions as challenge, Canada’s immigration system is relatively stable and all indications suggest that Express Entry is here to stay. Nigerians looking for a new home might want to consider the possibility of heading north, to the land of snow, politeness, job opportunities, security, and progressive immigration policies.