Operational Bulletin 395 – March 06, 2012
Sanctions Against Syria
This Operational Bulletin (OB) defines Syrian nationals as:
- Persons holding Syrian citizenship or,
- Persons residing in Syria
The authorities had imposed amended sanctions against Syria under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA). These sanctions prohibit the following people from providing or acquiring “any financial services or other related services… to, from or for the benefit of or on the direction or order of Syria or any person in Syria”:
- Persons residing in Canada and,
- Canadians residing outside Canada
These amended sanctions came into effect on March 05, 2012. As a result of these sanctions, Syrian nationals could face restrictions in transferring funds to Canadian banks.
The amended sanctions provide an exemption for:
- Non-commercial remittances of $40,000 or less or,
- Payments required under a contract that existed prior to March 05, 2012
The Assad regime has inflicted appalling levels of violence on the people of Syria. Therefore, Canada imposed sanctions under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) as a response to the violence perpetrated by the Assad regime. The new regulations amending the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) came into effect on March 05, 2012. The latest sanctions:
- Prohibit financial transactions with Syria and,
- Include new individuals and entities to the list of designated persons specified in Schedule 1 of the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) regulations
Because of the amended sanctions, the following individuals could face restrictions when they attempt to transfer funds to Canadian financial institutions:
- Syrian nationals or,
- Persons residing in Syria
They will face restrictions especially if they do not fit within the exemptions to the sanctions, specified in:
- Section 3.2 of the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) regulations and,
- Section 3.3 of the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) regulations
The restrictions also prohibit individuals in Syria from opening a bank account in Canada. This is applicable if the individuals attempt to open this bank account:
- Prior to their immigration to Canada for the purpose of transferring funds
This restriction will be in force even if the funds themselves would fall under the purview of the exemptions specified.
Readers can view the text of the regulations amending the Special Economic Measures (Syria) Regulations at the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada website.
The offices of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will continue to process applications for permanent and temporary residence for:
- Syrian nationals and,
- Persons residing in Syria
All offices of the CIC – whether in Canada or overseas – will process these applications to visa issuance. They will also process these applications as per normal office procedures.
In certain situations, applicants might need to demonstrate that they:
- Can transfer funds to Canada or,
- Have transferred funds to Canada
This scenario could typically arise in the case of federal investor class applicants. Federal investor class applicants need to make their investment of $400,000 or $800,000. In this scenario, officers would need to:
- Notify these applicants that they might face restrictions in transferring funds to a Canadian financial institution and,
- Refer these applicants to the text concerning the sanctions specified in the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) regulations
Similarly, the officers would need to provide the same information to all other applicants too. However, in the case of other applicants, they would receive this information at the time of visa issuance.
People affected by the sanctions on financial transactions would need to apply for permits from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). This is applicable for people who are:
- Applicants for a visa or,
- Already in Canada
The permits issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) authorise specific activities of transactions. They authorise these activities or transactions despite the prohibitions specified under the sanctions.
Therefore, officers would need to consider this permit process, when they assign a deadline for submitting evidence that:
- Applicants can transfer funds to Canada or,
- Applicants can make investments in Canada
Only after considering this would officers be able to refuse an application for failure to transfer the required funds or investments from:
- A Syrian national or,
- A person residing in Syria
The authorities have drafted specific text for communicating with clients affected by the sanctions. The In-Canada CIC offices and overseas missions would need to use the following text when communicating with these affected clients:
“Effective March 5, 2012, Syrian nationals and persons residing in Syria may face restrictions in transferring funds to, or opening bank accounts with, Canadian financial institutions. The text of regulations amending the Special Economic Measures (Syria) Regulations, can be found at Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Syria) Regulations. Persons affected by the sanctions on financial transactions, whether they are applicants for a visa or already in Canada, may apply for permits from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) that authorize specified activities or transactions that are otherwise prohibited under the sanctions. Exemptions to the sanctions can be found in section 3.2 and 3.3 of the amended Regulations.
For more information, applicants should contact:
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Economic Law Section (JLHB)
125 Sussex Drive
Canada K1A 0G2
The authorities also wish to obtain a better understanding of the effects of the sanctions on the applicants. Therefore, they have instructed the overseas missions to report the number and nature of complaints presented to them at: Nat-Africa-Middle-East@cic.gc.ca.
Similarly, the authorities have asked In-Canada offices to report the number and nature of complaints presented to them to the Permanent Residence Program Division within the Operational Management and Coordination Branch (OMC). In-Canada offices would need to report the number and nature of complaints presented to them at: OMC-GOC-Immigration@cic.gc.ca. They would also need to specify the words “SYRIAN SANCTIONS” in the Subject line.
Readers might want to obtain further information the changes outlined in this OB. To this end, they could contact the Operational Management and Coordination Branch (OMC) at: OMC-GOC-Immigration@cic.gc.ca.
Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)