Worldwide ERC® and the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC) have been advocating that the U.S. and Canada address cross-border issues in order to better facilitate that relocation of employees between the two countries. In December, the U.S. and Canada released an action plan to improve economic competiveness and perimeter security which included many of the recommendations suggested by Worldwide ERC® and the CERC. Since then, the Obama Administration has issued an Executive Order to further facilitate entry into the U.S. In this most recent case, improved entry is for travel and tourism.
The Full Story:
On February 4, 2011, President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Harper issued a declaration to improve economic competitiveness and perimeter security for the two countries. The declaration, entitled Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, created the Beyond the Border Working Group to address the issues identified by the two leaders. A key component of the declaration and an objective of the Working Group was to streamline business activity and promote better mobility of individuals between the U.S. and Canada.
To access a copy of declaration, Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, please go to: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/02/04/declaration-president-obama-and-prime-minister-harper-canada-beyond-bord
In November, Worldwide ERC® and the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC) sent a joint letter to the Beyond the Boarder Working Group calling for improving consistency in inspections and adjudications, removing operational impediments and improving policies that unnecessarily limit access to skilled workers. The letter contained a series of recommendations developed by Worldwide ERC® and CERC which were based in part on a survey of CERC members with experience with the mobility of employees between the Canada and the U.S. Prior to the declaration, Worldwide ERC® and CERC had convened a working group in the fall of 2010 to address many of the border issues identified by the two organizations. The organizations submitted a letter on their findings and recommendations in April of last year to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
On December 7, 2011, President Obama and Prime Minister Harper released the “Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan - Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness.” Numerous recommendations made in the November letter submitted by Worldwide ERC® and CERC were contained in the Action Plan.
The joint letter focused on three areas which are as follows:
- Improve consistency in inspections/adjudications
- Remove operational impediments
- Improve policies that unnecessarily limit access to skilled workers
The Action Plan addressed all three areas by stating that enhanced training of border personnel will be provided, current processes and regulations would be reviewed and improved and stakeholders would be further consulted on immigration matters.
For a copy of the specific recommendations made by Worldwide ERC® and CERC and the corresponding provision in the Action Plan addressing the recommendation, please go to: http://www.cerc.ca/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=iMMuc5pEqus%3d&tabid=36
A complete copy of the Beyond the Border Action Plan can be found at: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/canada/303578/pdfs/us-canada-btb_action_plan.pdf
Executive Order on Travel and Tourism Promotion
Along the same lines as the efforts to improve economic competitiveness for the U.S. with Canada, on January 19, President Obama issued an Executive Order to increase tourism to the U.S. To accomplish this objective, the Executive Order would improve the processing of visas for foreign visitors and create a task force on travel and competitiveness.
The Executive Order identifies four specific actions which are as follows:
(1) Increase nonimmigrant visa processing capacity in China and Brazil by 40 percent over the coming year;
(2) Ensure that 80 percent of nonimmigrant visa applicants are interviewed within 3 weeks of receipt of application, recognizing that resource and security considerations and the need to ensure provision of consular services to U.S. citizens may dictate specific exceptions;
(3) Increase efforts to expand the Visa Waiver Program and travel by nationals of Visa Waiver Program participants; and
(4) Expand reciprocal recognition programs for expedited travel, such as the Global Entry program.
The Executive Order would also establish the Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness which would develop a strategy to further improve and promote domestic and international travel opportunities to increase tourism in the United States.
To access a copy of the Executive Order, please go to: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/01/19/executive-order-establishing-visa-and-foreign-visitor-processing-goals-a