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Biometrics program strengthens Canadian immigration

International students  at an event welcoming them to Canada, are one of the groups Canada currently collects biometrics from.

Canada has long had one of the highest per capita rates of immigration in the world and is an attractive destination for immigrants and visitors.

Accurately establishing identity is an important part of immigration decisions and helps keep Canadians safe. For more than 20 years, biometrics (fingerprints and a photograph) have played a role in supporting immigration screening and decision-making in Canada.

In 2018, Canada intends to expand its biometrics program to all foreign nationals applying for a visitor visa, a study or work permit (excluding U.S. nationals), and to all those applying for permanent residence.

Expanding biometrics will help facilitate the entry of travellers with legitimate identities, preventing identity fraud, and keeping Canada safe.

Canada currently collects biometrics from in-Canada refugee claimants and overseas refugee resettlement applicants, individuals ordered removed from Canada and individuals from 30 foreign nationalities applying for a temporary resident visa, work permit, or study permit.

Expanding biometrics will strengthen Canada’s immigration programs through effective screening (biometric collection, verification, and information-sharing with partner countries). It will also enable Canada to facilitate application processing and travel – while maintaining public confidence in its immigration system.

The expansion of Canada’s biometrics program, which includes the implementation of new requirements for immigration applicants, an expanded biometrics collection service network and automated fingerprint verification at ports of entry, will be rolled out over two  years (2018 –2019).

The pre-publication and consultation period, from April 7 to May 6, 2018, is designed to give the public an opportunity to provide feedback on the text of the proposed Regulations once they are published in the Canada Gazette, Part I.

“Each year, Canada welcomes millions of visitors and accepts hundreds of thousands of students, workers and permanent residents,” said Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. “Canadians understand the importance of immigration to our country’s economic and social well-being. By expanding our biometrics program, we facilitate entry into Canada and protect the integrity of our immigration system by quickly and accurately establishing a traveller’s identity. A key feature of biometrics expansion is that temporary residents will only have to provide their biometrics once every 10 years.”

“Biometrics screening helps keep Canadians safe,” said Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. “The collection and verification of biometrics, along with criminal and immigration screening and biometric-based information-sharing, will help prevent identity fraud, identify those who pose a security risk and stop known criminals from entering Canada.”

A few quick facts:

Biometrics are the measurement of unique physical characteristics; and for Canadian immigration programs, biometrics include fingerprints and a photograph of the face.

The scope of the expansion project will include three broad components:

  • Collection of biometric information from all foreign nationals (excluding U.S. nationals) applying for a temporary resident visa, work permit, study permit, or temporary resident permit; and all permanent residence applicants.
  • Verification: Systematic fingerprint verification at major airports, and expanded fingerprint verification at additional ports of entry (airports and land borders), for travellers who have provided their biometrics.
  • Information-sharing: Increase biometric-based information-sharing between Canada and the U.S. and introduce automated biometric-based information-sharing with the other Migration 5 (formerly known as FCC – Five Country Conference) partners: Australia, United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Canada currently collects biometrics from:

  • in-Canada asylum claimants and overseas refugee resettlement applicants;
  • individuals ordered removed from Canada; and
  • since 2013, Canada has collected biometrics from 30 nationalities applying for a temporary resident visa, work permit, or study permit.

Exemptions to biometrics expansion include:

  • Canadian citizens, citizenship applicants (including passport applicants), or existing permanent residents;
  • children under the age of 14;
  • applicants over the age of 79 (there is no upper age exemption for asylum claimants);
  • visa-exempt nationals coming to Canada as tourists who hold a valid electronic travel authorization (eTA);
  • heads of state and heads of government;
  • cabinet ministers and accredited diplomats of other countries and the United Nations, coming to Canada on official business;
  • US visa holders transiting through Canada;
  • refugee claimants or protected persons who have already provided biometrics and are applying for a study or work permit;
  • temporary resident applicants who have already provided biometrics in support of a permanent resident application that is still in progress.

For more information, visit canada.ca/biometrics.

Posted: May 2, 2018

June 2019

Centennial College

Immigration Peel Canada

© CanadaBound Immigrant 2016