Privacy Impact Assessment Summary - Temporary resident application

A temporary resident visa is an official document issued by a Canadian visa office abroad that is placed in a passport to show that the individual in question has met the requirements for admission to Canada as a temporary resident (either as a visitor, a student or a worker). Citizens of 147 countries require visas to enter Canada.

The proposal to use a private contractor to collect and deliver application packages on behalf of the embassy does not change the processing or the decision making involved in a visa application once it has arrived at the mission abroad. Currently, visa applicants apply for temporary resident visas by mail, through travel agents, consultants or commercial couriers or in person by visiting a high commission, an embassy or a consulate (mission) outside of Canada. The need to apply in person, in countries where the postal or courier service is not dependable, imposes a hardship. Some missions are many thousands of kilometres from the residence of the applicant. Travel to the mission simply for the purpose of submitting an application imposes needless costs for transportation and hotels, and lengthy line-ups.

Since 9/11, there have been heightened security concerns at Canadian missions abroad. Such concerns have exposed the vulnerability of missions to the constant and significant traffic from people seeking temporary resident visas.

To meet rising security concerns and to better manage workflow and costs, CIC proposes to provide an additional voluntary option for clients designed to support better service to temporary resident applicants around the world, beginning in India. This involves the use of an entity (service provider, or SP) that will perform a number of functions on behalf of applicants as well as facilitate the distribution of information by a mission. It is to be emphasized that the SP will not make any decisions and will not be involved in any way in the issuance of temporary resident visas. Applicants will be advised that at any point in the process, they always have the choice to contact the mission directly rather than going through an SP. This service provider process is already in use by the American and British authorities in many places around the world, including India.

The new service will provide access to our application information in many cities closer to the applicants, resulting in speedier processing and better client service. The service provider will check applications for completeness, and then package and forward the application to the mission for processing. If additional documents or an interview are required, the SP will arrange this for the client according to specific guidelines set by the mission.

The only personal information that the SP will be permitted to keep for a short period will be the contact information (name, address, telephone number, e-mail address) of the client, so that passports and documents can be returned to their owner at the end of the process. Once the applicant has received his personal documents at the end of the process, the SP will be required to destroy in an agreed manner all of the client’s personal information in any stored formats. The service provider may then retain only depersonalized information for statistical purposes.

The privacy risks identified as part of this assessment are low to moderate and a mitigation plan has been developed to deal with the issues.

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