News Release — Facilitating Travel to Canada – Canada to Begin Collecting Biometrics from Certain Foreign Nationals

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Ottawa, December 7, 2012 — In order to facilitate legitimate travel, nationals of twenty‑nine countries and one territory will soon need to provide their biometrics to come to Canada to visit, study or work, under regulations proposed today by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.

“Biometrics has proven to be one of the most effective ways to identify individuals entering the country,” said Minister Kenney. “By providing immigration officials with greater certainty, biometrics will facilitate legitimate travel to Canada.”

Starting in 2013, persons from the following countries and territory who apply for a visitor visa, study permit or work permit will be required to provide their fingerprints and photograph at the time of application: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Vietnam, and Yemen.

Canadian citizens and permanent residents will not have to submit biometrics to enter the country. Minors under the age of 14, the elderly over the age of 79, and diplomats travelling on official business and their family members will also be exempt.

Once an individual arrives in Canada, their biometric data will be checked to ensure that the individual who was approved to travel is in fact the same person who is entering Canada.

The use of biometrics as an identity management tool will bring Canada in line with many other countries that are now using, or preparing to use, biometrics in immigration and border management. These include the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, countries in the European Union Schengen Zone, Japan, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia.

Accordingly, many nationals from the selected twenty-nine countries and one territory will already be familiar with the requirement. In addition, the governments of 20 of the 29 countries already collect biometrics from their citizens for the issuance of documents, such as identity cards and passports, or they plan to do so.

“Biometrics will strengthen and modernize Canada’s immigration system,” said Minister Kenney. “Our doors are open to legitimate travellers and, through the use of biometrics, we will also be able to protect the safety and security of Canadians.”

Citizenship and Immigration Canada, along with its partners, the Canada Border Services Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, continue to work closely with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to ensure adequate privacy protection measures for an applicant’s personal information. Applicants’ privacy will be protected in accordance with Canada’s Privacy Act.

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Photo of Minister Kenney available at: www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/photos/high-res/index.asp.

For further information (media only), please contact:

Alexis Pavlich
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
613-954-1064

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
613-952-1650
CIC-Media-Relations@cic.gc.ca

Backgrounder

Building a stronger Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strengthens Canada’s economic, social and cultural prosperity, helping ensure Canadian safety and security while managing one of the largest and most generous immigration programs in the world.

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