Canada expands biometric program to visa, permit applicants

By a Staff Reporter

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.

The Government of Canada (GoC) wants all Canadians to consider the importance of expanding biometrics in the context of helping 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.

The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, notes that every year, Canada welcomes millions of visitors and accepts hundreds of thousands of students, workers and permanent residents.

He says 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 ten years.”

The GoC’s view is that 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 our 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 the next two years.

“Biometrics screening helps keep Canadians safe,” says the Hon. 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.”

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.

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