Facilitating travel to Canada while keeping Canadians safe
Canadians are invited to provide input on new regulations
to expand Canada’s Biometrics Program
April 6, 2018, Ottawa, ON – 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.
“Each year, Canada welcomes millions of visitors and accepts hundreds of thousands of students, workers and permanent residents. 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,” said The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
The Government of Canada encourages 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.
Biometrics are the measurement of unique physical characteristics; and for Canadian immigration programs, biometrics include fingerprints and a photograph of the face. 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. 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; S. 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.
“Biometrics screening helps keep Canadians safe. 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,” mentioned The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
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 2 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.