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The Jay Treaty – US Immigration Benefits for Indigenous/First Nations

Did you know that the Jay Treaty, signed by Great Britain and the United States in 1794, which was reiterated in the Treaty of Ghent and US Immigration Act of 1924, provides US immigration benefits to certain indigenous individuals born in Canada?

Who is eligible for US immigration benefits under the Jay Treaty?

To be eligible for US immigration benefits under the Jay Treaty, an individual must be able to evidence the following:

  • Was born in Canada; and
  • Is at least 50% Aboriginal

When entering the US, the individual should carry evidence of their identity, birth in Canada, and indigenous (50% or more) status. Generally, this involves carrying photo ID, Canadian long-form birth certificate, Indian Status Card issued by the Ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs, and letter from band office attesting the individual’s possession of at least 50% aboriginal heritage.

What US immigration benefits do the Jay Treaty provide to qualifying individuals?

If an individual qualifies under the Jay Treaty, as is detailed above, the individual is able to enter for the following purposes:

  • Temporary Work/Tourism – including working temporarily in the US or visiting the US for pleasure or tourism is permitted without a sponsoring employer or any application for nonimmigrant status; and
  • US Lawful Permanent Residence (“green card”) – without the issuance of an I-551 stamp/immigrant visa from the Consulate.

For those in the US, an application can be filed with US Citizenship and Immigration Services to obtain, a “Creation of Record” to evidence valid Lawful Permanent Resident status for employment and other purposes.

While the benefits are guaranteed for those who meet the eligibility requirements, having the correct documentation and knowing how to obtain those benefits correctly is imperative. Our firm stands at the ready to assist with any US immigration matter, including benefits under the Jay Treaty.