Canadian immigration officials are working with US counterparts in Nigeria to stem the number of migrants crossing illegally into Canada, BBC reports.
Nigerian asylum seekers have been crossing into Canada at its southern border with the US in growing numbers. Many were in the US with American visas before walking into Canada.
In 2017, more than 20,500 migrants crossed illegally into Canada at the US border to seek asylum – about 40% of total claims.
In the first three months of this year, over half the 5,052 asylum claims by those who crossed the border were Nigerian nationals, and most had valid US visas.
Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau said on Monday about 90% of all “irregular” border crossers do not meet the criteria for refugee status and will eventually be deported.
Avoiding an official border checkpoint lets migrants circumvent the Safe Third Country Agreement, an accord between the US and Canada that forces people to claim asylum in their first country of arrival.
The policy is meant to better manage refugee claims and to avoid “asylum shopping” between countries, but is also among the reasons asylum seekers are avoiding official border points.
Three Canadian immigration officials are now in Lagos working with American authorities to combat abuse of US travel documents.
Canada says it has already seen an increase in US travel visa denials for Nigerians citizens it believes want the document solely for the purpose of coming to Canada.
Federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen is also travelling to Nigeria this month to meet with government officials there.