Biometric Requirements to Enter Canada

21st Jul 2018 Comments Off on Biometric Requirements to Enter Canada

On July 31, 2018 Canada is imposing new biometric requirements on individuals wishing to visit Canada.

Biometrics refers to the taking of fingerprints and a photograph.

Biometrics collection is being expanded to include all persons (with certain exemptions) applying for temporary or permanent residence, including all those applying for a temporary or permanent resident visa or status, work permit, study permit, or temporary resident permit.

The Government of Canada is also introducing systematic fingerprint verification for all biometrically enrolled travellers at Canada’s major airports and expand fingerprint verification capacity at additional ports of entry.

Finally, Canada will enhance biometric information sharing between Canada and the United States and introduce biometric information sharing with other the Migration 5 partners, which are Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

The change is part of a worldwide trend.  More than 70 countries worldwide have implemented or are planning to implement biometrics in their immigration and border programs, including allies such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the European Union.

Who is Required to Provide Biometrics

Since 2013, citizens of 29 visa-required countries and one territory have been required to provide biometrics.  Biometrics have also been collected from overseas refugee resettlement applicants since late 2014.

As of July 31, 2018, subject to certain exceptions, all persons applying for a temporary or permanent resident visa or status, work permit, study permit, temporary resident permit, or refugee protection, whether claimed inside or outside Canada, must provide biometrics.

There are numerous exceptions.

First, Americans are exempted.

Second, a person who is eligible to apply for an electronic travel authorization (an “eTA”), rather than a temporary resident visa, is not required to provide their biometrics if they are travelling to Canada as a tourist.

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The Beyond the Border Initiative – ETA, Information Sharing, Tracking Exits

17th Jan 2014 Comments Off on The Beyond the Border Initiative – ETA, Information Sharing, Tracking Exits

[The following is a slightly edited (to include links) version of an article that I wrote for The Canadian Immigrant.]

In February 2011, Canada and the United States agreed to the Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competiveness. More commonly known as the Beyond the Border Action Plan, the effect of the agreement was to strengthen co-operation and, in some cases, harmonize Canadian and American immigration practices.

The Government of Canada has begun enthusiastically implementing the terms of the Beyond the Border Action Plan, and will in 2014-2015 introduce three significant changes to Canadian immigration legislation that will impact almost everyone who enters Canada.

Electronic travel authorization

People who wish to visit Canada generally fall into one of two categories:  those who need to apply for and obtain temporary resident visas prior to arriving in Canada; and those who can arrive at Canadian ports of entry without first obtaining a visa. This will change in April 2015, when Canada implements the electronic travel authorization (“eTA”) system.

All foreign nationals who are exempt from the requirement to obtain a temporary resident visa will instead need to obtain online authorization before they fly to Canada.  This includes Europeans, Australians, Japanese, Koreans, etc. Citizens from the United States, however, are exempt.

The eTA application process will be online via the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website. Applicants will be required to enter biographic, passport and background information, which may affect admissibility to Canada. An electronic system will then perform an examination that includes a risk assessment and a verification of the information provided in the application against enforcement databases. The Government of Canada expects that the majority of applications will be approved within minutes.

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Biometric Travel Headaches

7th Jan 2014 Comments Off on Biometric Travel Headaches

On December 1, 2013, I noted that Canada has introduced a biometric requirement for nationals of certain countries.  I wrote:

Biometrics is the measurement of unique physical characteristics, such as fingerprints and facial features, for the purpose of verifying identity. Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC’s) goal in requiring that certain foreign nationals provide biometrics is to make it more difficult for individuals to use another person’s identity, and to prevent criminals, deportees and previous failed refugee claimants from (re-)entering Canada using false identification.

By Dec. 11, citizens of the following countries will be required to give their biometrics (fingerprints and digital photograph) when they apply for a visitor visa, study permit or work permit: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Laos, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Vietnam and Yemen.

Applicants from the above-listed countries will be required to go to a Visa Application Centre (VAC) or a visa office (if a VAC is not available) to give their fingerprints and have their photographs taken. Digital copies will be sent to the Royal Canadian Mountain Police and to CIC, who will then check the fingerprints against criminal, refugee and visa application records. When successful applicants arrive at Canadian ports of entry, the Canada Border Services Agency will use the photograph and/or fingerprint to verify the identity of individuals.

Because of the biometrics requirement, it will no longer be possible for people from the above-mentioned countries to submit paper applications directly to a Canadian embassy or consulate. Instead, these individuals will have to apply in person at VACs. Online applicants will also receive instructions to appear at a VAC to provide their fingerprints.

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Introducing Biometrics for Certain Visa Applicants

1st Dec 2013 Comments Off on Introducing Biometrics for Certain Visa Applicants

[The following article of mine was published in Canadian Immigrant Magazine.]

Canada has joined the United States, Japan, most of Europe and Australia in requiring biometric information from certain foreign nationals.

Biometrics is the measurement of unique physical characteristics, such as fingerprints and facial features, for the purpose of verifying identity. Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC’s) goal in requiring that certain foreign nationals provide biometrics is to make it more difficult for individuals to use another person’s identity, and to prevent criminals, deportees and previous failed refugee claimants from (re-)entering Canada using false identification.

By Dec. 11, citizens of the following countries will be required to give their biometrics (fingerprints and digital photograph) when they apply for a visitor visa, study permit or work permit: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Laos, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Vietnam and Yemen.

How biometrics will work

Applicants from the above-listed countries will be required to go to a Visa Application Centre (VAC) or a visa office (if a VAC is not available) to give their fingerprints and have their photographs taken. Digital copies will be sent to the Royal Canadian Mountain Police and to CIC, who will then check the fingerprints against criminal, refugee and visa application records. When successful applicants arrive at Canadian ports of entry, the Canada Border Services Agency will use the photograph and/or fingerprint to verify the identity of individuals.

Because of the biometrics requirement, it will no longer be possible for people from the above-mentioned countries to submit paper applications directly to a Canadian embassy or consulate. Instead, these individuals will have to apply in person at VACs.

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Biometric Regulations

7th Dec 2012 Comments Off on Biometric Regulations

It is commonly accepted that identification documents which rely on a person’s name, date of birth, and even photograph, are increasingly inadequate to detect fraud or to accurately confirm a person’s identity.  As such, the Government of Canada today announced regulatory changes which specify that certain foreign nationals will have to provide biometric information when applying to enter Canada and when actually entering Canada.

As indicated in the table below, starting in 2013, temporary resident visa applicants, study permit applicants, and work permit applicants from prescribed countries will have to have their biometric information collected overseas before they arrive in Canada.  This information will then be checked by the Canada Border Services Agency when the applicants arrive at a Canadian port of entry.  As well, the RCMP may analyze whether the person has previously made a refugee claim or been deported from Canada.

The biometric information which will have to be provided include fingerprints and a facial image.  Applicants will have to provide this information at Visa Application Centers.

The prescribed countries, and the dates by which foreign nationals holding travel documents from these countries will have to submit biometric information at Visa Application Centers, are:

List of Countries Whose Foreign Nationals Will Be Required to Submit Biometric Information Prior to Coming to Canada

Date
Countries

September 2, 2013
Haiti

Jamaica

October 15, 2013
Albania

Algeria

DemocraticRepublicofCongo

Eritrea

Libya

Nigeria

Saudi Arabia

Somalia

South Sudan

Sudan

Tunisia

December 7, 2013
Afghanistan

Bangladesh

Burma

Cambodia

Egypt

Iran

Iraq

Jordan

Laos

Lebanon

Pakistan

Palestine(document issued by Palestinian Authority)

Sri Lanka

Syria

Vietnam

Yemen

Children under the age of 14 and adults over the age of 79 will be exempted from the requirement to submit biometric information,

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