Biometics plan to take effect in 2013 for visitors from 30 countries
By Tobi Cohen, Postmedia News December 7, 2012
A man has his fingerprint scanned on a new biometric check at London’s Heathrow airport.
OTTAWA — Starting next year, visitors from some 30 countries will be required to submit a photograph and fingerprints if they want to come to Canada, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced Friday as details of Canada’s new biometrics program were published in the Canada Gazette.
The new rules will apply starting in 2013 to individuals from Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Vietnam, Yemen and the Palestinian territory who are seeking to come to Canada as tourists or on study or work permits.
Canadian citizens and permanent residents returning to Canada will not be required to turn over biometric data. Children under 14, seniors over the age of 79 and diplomats and their families travelling on official business will also be exempt.
“Biometrics has proven to be one of the most effective ways to identify individuals entering the country,” Kenney said in a statement. “By providing immigration officials with greater certainty, biometrics will facilitate legitimate travel to Canada.”
The plan is expected to bring Canada in line with countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and others that already have biometrics provisions.
In an interview with Postmedia News, Kenney called the plan a “massive upgrade in our immigration security screening.”
According to the regulations, the photos and fingerprints would be collected overseas, prior to the individual coming to Canada. Fingerprints would be sent to the RCMP to be checked against fingerprint records of refugee claimants, previous deportees, those with criminal records and previous visa applicants before a decision is made as to whether the individual should receive a visa to come to Canada.
Border officials will use the accompanying photograph to verify an individual’s identity when they arrive in Canada and may require an additional fingerprint scan before they’re ultimately admitted. The government will charge a biometric fee of $85 aimed at offsetting about half the cost of the program.
The biometrics program is among a number of so-called “transformational changes” to Canada’s immigration system that the government has previously promised. On Monday, he will also unveil details of a new immigration stream for skilled tradespeople that will kick off in January.
Before Parliament rises for the Christmas break, Kenney is also expected to announce the so-called “safe” country list under the Protecting Canada’s Immigration Act passed in June. The designation will effectively expedite the processing of refugee claimants from countries that are thought to be non typical producers of refugees. Failed claimants from countries on the list will have no right to appeal a negative decision and will be subject to speedier removal from Canada.
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