ARCHIVED — Vol. 147, No. 10 — May 8, 2013

Registration

SOR/2013-73 April 26, 2013

IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE PROTECTION ACT

Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations

P.C. 2013-419 April 25, 2013

Whereas, pursuant to subsection 5(2) (see footnote a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (see footnote b), the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has caused a copy of the proposed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, substantially in the annexed form, to be laid before each House of Parliament;

Therefore, His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, pursuant to subsection 5(1), section 11.1 (see footnote c), subsection 14(3) (see footnote d), section 89 (see footnote e) and paragraph 150.1(1)(d) (see footnote f) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (see footnote g), makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

REGULATIONS AMENDING THE IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE PROTECTION REGULATIONS

1. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (see footnote 1) are amended by adding the following after section 12:

DIVISION 2.1

COLLECTION OF BIOMETRIC INFORMATION

Prescribed foreign nationals

12.1 (1) For the purposes of section 11.1 of the Act and subject to subsection (2), a foreign national referred to in any of the following paragraphs who makes an application for a temporary resident visa under section 179, an application for a study permit under section 213, 214 or 215 or an application for a work permit under section 197, 198 or 199 must, as of the applicable date set out in that paragraph, follow the procedure set out in subsection (3) for the collection of the biometric information set out in subsection (4):

  • (a) September 4, 2013, in the case of a foreign national who is a citizen of Colombia, Haiti or Jamaica;
  • (b) October 23, 2013, in the case of a foreign national who is a citizen of Albania, Algeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan or Tunisia;
  • (c) December 11, 2013, in the case of a foreign national who is a citizen of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Vietnam or Yemen;
  • (d) December 11, 2013, in the case of a foreign national who holds a passport or travel document issued by the Palestinian Authority.

Exemption

(2) A foreign national referred to in subsection (1) is exempt from the requirement to follow the procedure set out in subsection (3) if the foreign national is

  • (a) under the age of 14;
  • (b) over the age of 79;
  • (c) a person who is seeking to enter Canada in the course of official duties as a properly accredited diplomat, consular officer, representative or official of a country other than Canada, of the United Nations or any of its agencies or of any intergovernmental organization of which Canada is a member, or is a family member of one of them;
  • (d) a holder of a valid United States entry visa who is destined to or returning from that country, is seeking to enter Canada for a period of less than 48 hours and is
    • (i) travelling by transporter’s vehicle to a destination other than Canada, or
    • (ii) transiting through or stopping over in Canada for refuelling or for the continuation of their journey in another transporter’s vehicle; or
  • (e) a foreign national who makes an application for a study permit or a work permit and is
    • (i) a person in Canada who has made a refugee claim that has not yet been determined by the Refugee Protection Division,
    • (ii) a person in Canada on whom refugee protection has been conferred, or
    • (iii) a person who is a member of the Convention refugees abroad class or a member of a humanitarian-protected persons abroad class.

Prescribed procedure

(3) A foreign national referred to in subsection (1) must present themselves in person at one of the following points of service to have the biometric information set out in subsection (4) collected from them:

  • (a) a location where services for the collection of biometric information are provided by an entity under an agreement or arrangement with the Minister for that purpose; or
  • (b) an immigration office if authorized or directed by an officer to do so for
    • (i) reasons relating to the national interest,
    • (ii) reasons relating to operational requirements, or
    • (iii) any other reason that may be necessary in the circumstances.

Prescribed biometric information

(4) The biometric information that is to be collected from a foreign national referred to in subsection (1) consists of the following:

  • (a) their photograph; and
  • (b) their fingerprints.

2. The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 13.1:

DIVISION 4.1

USE AND DISCLOSURE OF BIOMETRIC INFORMATION AND RELATED PERSONAL INFORMATION

Disclosure of information

13.11 (1) Any biometric information and related personal information set out in subsection (2) that is provided to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police under the Act may be used or disclosed by it to a law enforcement agency in Canada for the following purposes, if there is a potential match between fingerprints collected under the Act and fingerprints collected by it or submitted to it by a law enforcement agency in Canada:

  • (a) to establish or verify the identity of a person in order to prevent, investigate or prosecute an offence under any law of Canada or a province; and
  • (b) to establish or verify the identity of a person whose identity cannot reasonably be otherwise established or verified because of their death or any other physical or mental condition.

Information that may be used or disclosed

(2) The following information in respect of a foreign national or a permanent resident may be used or disclosed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police under subsection (1):

  • (a) their fingerprints and the date on which they were taken;
  • (b) their surname and first name;
  • (c) their other names and aliases, if any;
  • (d) their date of birth;
  • (e) their gender; and
  • (f) any file number associated with the biometric information or related personal information.

3. Paragraph 294(a) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

  • (a) a fee payable under this Part is payable per person, and not per application, and accordingly is payable in respect of each person by or on behalf of whom an application is made, up to the maximum fees prescribed by subsections 296(3), 297(2), 299(3) and 315.1(3);

4. The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 315:

Services in Relation to the Collection, Use and Disclosure of Biometric Information

Fee — $85

315.1 (1) A fee of $85 is payable for the provision of services in relation to the collection of biometric information under Division 2.1 of Part 1 in respect of an application for a temporary resident visa, a study permit or a work permit and to the use and disclosure of that information and for the provision of services related to those services.

Exception

(2) The following persons are not required to pay the fee referred to in subsection (1):

  • (a) a properly accredited diplomat, consular officer, representative or official of a country other than Canada, of the United Nations or any of its agencies or of any intergovernmental organization of which Canada is a member, the members of the suite of such a person and the family members of such a person;
  • (b) a member of the armed forces of a country that is a designated state for the purposes of the Visiting Forces Act, including a person who has been designated as a civilian component of that visiting force under paragraph 4(c) of that Act, and their family members;
  • (c) a person who is seeking to enter Canada
    • (i) for the purpose of attending a meeting hosted by the Government of Canada, an organization of the United Nations or the Organization of American States, as a participant,
    • (ii) for the purpose of attending a meeting as a representative of the Organization of American States or the Caribbean Development Bank, or
    • (iii) for the purpose of attending a meeting hosted by the Government of Canada, an organization of the United Nations or the Organization of American States, at the invitation of the Government of Canada;
  • (d) a person who is seeking to enter Canada as a competitor, coach, judge, team official, medical staff member or member of a national or international sports organizing body participating in the Pan-American Games, when held in Canada, or as a performer participating in a festival associated with any of those Games;
  • (e) a person who is seeking to enter Canada for a period of less than 48 hours and is
    • (i) travelling by transporter’s vehicle to a destination other than Canada, or
    • (ii) transiting through or stopping over in Canada for refuelling or for the continuation of their journey in another transporter’s vehicle;
  • (f) if the application is an application for a study permit or a work permit,
    • (i) the family members of a person in Canada who has made a refugee claim that has not yet been determined by the Refugee Protection Division,
    • (ii) the family members of a person in Canada on whom refugee protection has been conferred, and
    • (iii) the family members of a person who is a member of the Convention refugees abroad class or a member of a humanitarian-protected persons abroad class; and
  • (g) a person whose work in Canada would create or maintain reciprocal employment for Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada in other countries and who is a family member of an officer of a foreign government sent, under an exchange agreement between Canada and one or more countries, to take up duties with a federal or provincial agency.

Maximum fee

(3) The total amount of fees payable under subsection (1) is

  • (a) in relation to an application for a temporary resident visa, $170, if the applicant and their family members submit their application at the same time and place; and
  • (b) in relation to an application for a work permit, $255, if the applicants are a group of three or more persons, consisting of performing artists and their staff, who submit their applications at the same time and place.

COMING INTO FORCE

5. These Regulations come into force on the day on which section 6 of the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, chapter 17 of the Statutes of Canada, 2012, comes into force, but if they are registered after that day, they come into force on the day on which they are registered.

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

Executive summary

Issues: The rise in global identity fraud and recent advancements in technology that make it easy to steal, forge or alter identity documents are making it increasingly challenging for immigration officials to accurately screen individuals wishing to come to Canada. Therefore, current screening tools which rely on biographic information, such as a person’s name, date of birth and identity documents, are under increasing pressure to efficiently detect fraud or to accurately confirm an applicant’s identity. Stronger immigration screening practices are needed to help Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) identify individuals who pose a criminal or security threat to Canada while facilitating the entry of legitimate travellers.

Description: The Regulations support the collection and use of biometrics in Canada’s Temporary Resident (TR) program to strengthen immigration screening tools. They build upon the legislative framework established through the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act (PCISA), which received Royal Assent in June 2012 and which sets out the framework authorities that authorize the Government of Canada to require, collect and use biometric information from certain foreign nationals who make an application for a temporary resident visa (TRV), a study permit or a work permit. The Regulations amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR or the Regulations) to provide specificity to the general legislative framework by specifying the foreign nationals required to provide biometric information and the procedure to be followed, as well as exemptions for certain foreign nationals; establishing parameters for the use and disclosure of biometric information for the purpose of law enforcement; and setting a fee for the provision of services in relation to the collection, use and disclosure of biometric information. The Regulations will lower risks to program integrity and security in Canada’s TR program and facilitate the processing of applications by enhancing CIC’s and the CBSA’s ability to effectively identify individuals both during the visa application process and when they seek entry into Canada at a port of entry (POE).

Cost-benefit statement: The Regulations will enhance the integrity and security of the TR program and facilitate both the processing of applications and decision making on admissibility. The cost-benefit analysis indicates that the Regulations will result in a net benefit of $106 million over the 10-year horizon (2013–2022). All figures are in present value terms and are reflected in 2012 dollars. The anticipated net benefit is largely due to the implementation costs of the use and collection of biometrics in Canada’s TR program being partially offset by the biometric fee, as well as the benefits derived from the number of potential criminals and persons who would contravene immigration laws that will either be stopped or deterred from coming to Canada and the number of persons making a refugee claim in bad faith who will be deterred from making a claim.

“One-for-One” Rule and small business lens: Neither the “One-for-One” Rule nor the small business lens applies to these Regulations, due to the nature of the amendments.

Domestic and international coordination and cooperation: CIC will continue to work closely with other federal departments, such as the CBSA, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC), to implement the use of biometrics in Canada’s TR program. The Regulations also support immigration information sharing initiatives with trusted allies under the Canada–United States declaration called Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness and the Five Country Conference (FCC) forum. It is expected that the Regulations will be well received by Canada’s partners in these initiatives.

Background

Biometrics is the measurement of an individual’s unique physical characteristics, such as fingerprints and facial image. Accordingly, an applicant’s identity can be established through biometrics because of the uniqueness of these identifiers. The collection and matching of biometric information provides an accurate and reliable tool to verify identity, thereby significantly reducing the chance that one individual could pose as or be mistaken for another individual.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada, CBSA and the RCMP conducted a six-month biometric field trial from October 2006 to April 2007. The objective of the field trial was to explore how biometrics could be used in Canada’s TR program to facilitate entry into Canada and enhance program integrity and security. Approximately 14 000 TRV, study permit and work permit applicants provided their biometric information and close to 1 000 of these individuals had their identity verified upon entry into Canada. The field trial showed that biometrics is highly effective in managing the identities of clients by establishing a fixed basis for verifying identity. Moreover, the field trial demonstrated that biometric technology can detect fraud, for example by revealing that an applicant had submitted two separate applications under two different identities.

Building on the success of the field trial, Budget 2008 announced the Temporary Resident Biometrics Project (TRBP). Starting in 2013, TRV, study permit and work permit applicants from certain countries and territories for which visas are required who seek to enter Canada will be required to have their biometric information (fingerprints and photograph) collected overseas before arriving in Canada. The fingerprints collected abroad will be sent to the RCMP for storage and will be checked against the fingerprint records of refugee claimants, previous deportees, persons with Canadian criminal records and previous temporary resident applicants before a visa decision is made. The biometric identity established abroad will then be checked by a border services officer (BSO) at Canadian POEs by comparing the digital photograph with the individual seeking entry. Where a BSO has concerns regarding the identity of the visa holder seeking entry, the BSO will also have discretion to confirm that individual’s identity by conducting an electronic scan of the individual’s fingerprints at an equipped POE for comparison with those collected abroad.

Issue

Identity is at the heart of all decisions made by CIC abroad and by the CBSA at POEs. These decisions enable effective and early safeguarding of Canada against criminal and security threats and protect against threats to the integrity of Canada’s immigration and refugee protection programs by those who seek to circumvent legitimate provisions for entry and protection. Making identity decisions in an efficient manner is also essential to facilitating the entry of travellers for trade, commerce, study, tourism and other legitimate purposes which bring social and economic benefits to Canada.

Against the backdrop of rising global identity fraud and the use of increasingly sophisticated means of evading detection, Canada’s immigration program faces a key identity management challenge: accurately and efficiently establishing and verifying an applicant’s identity with confidence. A lack of reliable and objective identity management tools and the heavy dependence on paper documents for screening purposes has led to pressures on the efficiency, program integrity and security of Canada’s TR program. Biographical information such as a person’s name, date of birth and identity documents can be easily stolen, forged or altered, resulting in multiple or false identities. As well, naming and birth registration conventions and practices differ across countries, resulting in inconsistent data. Where officers are less confident in identity documents provided by TR applicants, overall travel plans, particularly at the time of visa application and POE processing, can be delayed while additional identity checks are initiated. Legitimate travellers whose biographic information is similar to a person of concern, or who come from a region with travel documents that contain fewer security features, may be inconvenienced during their travels as they could find themselves facing extensive questioning during the visa application process or at secondary inspection at a POE in order to verify their identity. Currently, having to repeatedly resolve uncertainties in relation to identity can consume considerable government resources and can inconvenience legitimate travellers.

Furthermore, a number of countries (see footnote 2) are now using, or preparing to use, biometrics in immigration and border management. The absence of biometric screening in Canada’s immigration program could make Canada a target for immigration fraud, as bad faith travellers could attempt to avoid the biometric requirements of other jurisdictions by travelling to Canada.

Objectives

The objective of the Regulations is to strengthen Canada’s immigration program and protect the safety and security of Canadians. The Regulations aim to enhance the integrity and security of the TR program through the use of biometrics (fingerprints and digital photographs), while also facilitating travel.

The Regulations will lower risks to program integrity and security as biometrics will establish a “fixed” basis for readily confirming identity in the future which will better support admissibility decisions. The use of biometrics in the TR program, for example by checking an individual’s identity against databases of known criminals, past refugee claimants and persons previously deported, will also strengthen the integrity of Canada’s immigration program by helping prevent individuals from using a false identity to obtain a visa.

The Regulations will also facilitate travel, as the use of biometrics will facilitate the processing of applications and decisionmaking by enhancing CIC’s and CBSA’s ability to effectively identify individuals during the visa application process and when they seek to enter Canada at a POE. For example, the use of biometrics will facilitate the processing of repeat applicants who had previously provided their biometric information. Biometric information collected at the time of the new application will be used to identify the applicant and confirm that a previous application had been made. Furthermore, in cases where a legitimate traveller has biographical information similar to that of a person of interest, the use of biometric information can facilitate the processing of the application as that information can be used to confirm that the applicant is not the person of interest.

The use of biometrics will put Canada in line with a growing list of countries which are now using, or preparing to use, biometrics in immigration and border management. These include the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, New Zealand, members of the European Union Schengen Zone, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Malaysia, among others.

Finally, the use of biometrics will support the systematic biometric information-sharing initiatives under the joint Canada–United States declaration called Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness and the FCC forum for immigration and border security between Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand.

Description

On June 28, 2012, the PCISA received Royal Assent. It amends the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and sets out the framework authorities that allow the Government of Canada to require and collect biometric information from prescribed foreign nationals who make an application for a TRV, a study permit or a work permit and to establish in Regulations specific procedures for the collection of and practices for the use of that information.

These Regulations support the implementation of this framework and amend the IRPR to provide the details of the legislative framework by

  • specifying that citizens from the listed countries and holders of travel documents from the listed territory are required to provide biometric information;
  • providing the details of the procedure to be followed;
  • creating exemptions from the requirement to provide biometric information;
  • establishing parameters for the use and disclosure of biometric information for the purposes of enforcing any Canadian federal or provincial law; and
  • setting a biometrics fee, fee exceptions and fee maximums.

The components of the regulatory measures are as follows.

Prescribed foreign nationals

The Regulations bring specificity to the broader legislative mandate that requires biometric information from prescribed foreign nationals in support of a TRV, study permit or work permit application.

“Prescribed foreign nationals” refers to those TRV, study permit or work permit applicants who are required to provide biometric information because they are foreign nationals who are citizens of a listed country or hold a travel document from a listed territory. Biometric requirements are only being imposed on a foreign national who is a citizen of the following countries or who holds a travel document from the following territory.

Countries for Biometric Screening

Afghanistan

Haiti

Saudi Arabia

Albania

Iran

Somalia

Algeria

Iraq

South Sudan

Bangladesh

Jamaica

Sri Lanka

Burma

Jordan

Sudan

Cambodia

Laos

Syria

Colombia

Lebanon

Tunisia

Congo, Democratic Republic of

Libya

Vietnam

Egypt

Nigeria

Yemen

Eritrea

Pakistan

 

Territory for Biometric Screening

Palestinian Authority

In 2011, CIC worked very closely with Public Safety Canada (PS), the CBSA, the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and consulted with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and with Industry Canada to develop the list of countries and territory whose nationals will be subject to biometric screening.

The countries and territory were selected following a systematic assessment of immigration patterns including volumes or rates of TRV refusals, removal orders, refugee claims and nationals arriving without proper documentation or attempting to travel to Canada without proper documentation or under a false identity. Canadian foreign and trade policy objectives, such as the Global Commerce Strategy, and tourism interests, as well as the feasibility of operating the biometrics capacity in a given country or territory, were also taken into consideration.

The introduction of biometrics is not expected to present significant bilateral irritants with the selected countries and territory. Citizens from those countries and holders of travel documents from that territory are already subject to biometric requirements through visa programs of international partners such as the United States and the United Kingdom and are already familiar with such travel requirements. As a facilitative measure, the Regulations also include exemptions from the biometric requirements for children under the age of 14, the elderly over the age of 79 and diplomats and officials. Further, Canada is also improving client service through the establishment of a network of Visa Application Centres (VACs) that will provide greater access to application and biometric information collection services.

Approximately 20% of TRV applicants (approximately 300 000 applicants) will be required under these Regulations to provide their biometric information in the first full year of their implementation.

Prescribed procedure and prescribed biometric information

The Regulations specify the procedure that prescribed foreign nationals are required to follow in order to enrol their biometric information and the biometric information they are required to provide, when making an application for a TRV, a study permit or a work permit. This procedure includes the requirements to

  • present themselves at a biometric collection service point in person; and
  • provide all available fingerprints and have a photograph taken.

Regulations specifying that prescribed foreign nationals must present themselves in person at a CIC biometric collection service point ensure that biometric information is collected using standardized technology in a format compatible with CIC systems and those of its partners and that the individual who is applying for temporary residency is the same as the one who is providing the biometric information.

The physical locations of biometric collection service points will be communicated administratively. The service delivery network will consist primarily of VACs contracted to provide visa application services and collect biometric information. Biometric collection service points could also include offices of foreign governments and Application Support Centres (ASCs) in the United States, as well as international organizations with which CIC has entered into an agreement or arrangement for the collection of biometric information. In addition, all CIC visa offices abroad will also be equipped with biometrics enrolment equipment to provide service on an exceptional or emergency basis and to provide service in areas where a VAC or other service provider may not exist. Further, itinerant service could potentially be provided in certain regions where local conditions and applicant volumes preclude the establishment of a fixed service delivery point.

Locations for biometrics collection service points will be chosen to reflect population centres and travel patterns; however, even if they reside in a country with a biometric collection service point, some applicants may still be required to travel within their country of residence to enrol biometric information, if they reside in a different part of the country.

Exemptions from biometric enrolment

The Regulations provide for exemptions from biometric enrolment for certain categories of applicants. With a view to maintaining consistency with departmental policy and practices and to applying a risk-based approach to the collection of biometric information, the Regulations provide that applicants who fall into the following categories are exempt from providing biometric information:

  • A person who is under the age of 14 or over the age of 79;
  • A properly accredited diplomat, consular officer, representative or official seeking to enter Canada in the course of official duties and the family members of such a person; and
  • A transit visa applicant who is destined to or returning from the United States and holds a valid United States entry visa.

To ensure that the Regulations do not require that biometric information be collected from non-temporary residents (i.e. a refugee claimant whose claim has not yet been processed or a protected person who has not obtained permanent resident status), the Regulations provide that the following individuals are exempt from providing biometric information when applying for a study permit or work permit:

  • A person in Canada who has made a claim for refugee protection that has not been determined;
  • A person in Canada on whom refugee protection has been conferred; and
  • A person who is a member of the Convention refugees abroad class or a humanitarian-protected persons abroad class.

Individuals who are citizens of a country that has biometric requirements or who hold a travel document from a territory that has such requirements and who fall within an exempt category will not be required to enrol biometric information.

Use and disclosure of biometric information for law enforcement purposes

The Regulations specify the parameters that allow for biometric and related personal information collected for immigration purposes to be used or disclosed by the RCMP for the enforcement of any Canadian federal or provincial law. These Regulations apply to any fingerprints collected under IRPA, currently and in the future.

Under existing authorities in IRPA, CIC and CBSA currently request fingerprints from foreign nationals as part of an examination and these fingerprints are sent to the RCMP for screening and storage. Fingerprints that will be collected from temporary resident applicants under these Regulations will also be sent to the RCMP for screening and storage. Matches between immigration fingerprints and fingerprints of interest to law enforcement agencies may be found when the immigration fingerprints are initially searched against the RCMP database for admissibility screening purposes and throughout the period that they are retained in that database. Since the persons with whom the fingerprints are associated may change immigration status while their fingerprints are held in the database (e.g. foreign nationals who become permanent residents), the fingerprints held in the RCMP database and available to it for law enforcement purposes, could belong to permanent residents, although it will not include the fingerprints of persons who are granted Canadian citizenship.

All fingerprints collected for immigration purposes can be matched against latent prints (i.e. unidentified prints, for example those collected from a crime scene), criminal prints (i.e. fingerprints of persons convicted of an offence) or other prints of interest to law enforcement agencies. The Regulations will assist law enforcement in establishing or verifying the identity of individuals when a fingerprint collected by the RCMP or submitted to the RCMP by another domestic law enforcement agency is a potential match with a print collected for immigration purposes. When there is a fingerprint match, the Regulations authorize the RCMP to use, or further disclose to another Canadian law enforcement agency, the immigration biometric fingerprint and related biographic information of a foreign national or of a permanent resident for the purposes set out in the Regulations. Those purposes are

  • to establish or verify the identity of a person in order to prevent, investigate or prosecute an offence under a Canadian federal or provincial law; and
  • to establish or verify the identity of a person whose identity cannot reasonably be otherwise established or verified because of their death or any other physical or mental condition.

Furthermore, the Regulations specify that the data elements that can be used or disclosed by the RCMP are fingerprints, name, date of birth, gender, other names or aliases, date the fingerprints were taken and any associated file number.

Where any additional information held by CIC or CBSA is of interest to law enforcement agencies, the RCMP or other law enforcement agency would be required to request the information in writing from CIC or CBSA in accordance with the Privacy Act and, if required, to obtain that information from CIC or CBSA in accordance with the requirements of applicable laws, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Biometrics fee

The Regulations establish a biometrics fee payable by applicants as well as exemptions from the fee for certain applicants. Applicants required to enrol biometric information will pay a biometrics fee of $85 as a means to partially recover biometrics costs. This fee will result in the recovery of approximately 50% of ongoing annual costs beginning in 2014–15 (the first full year of project implementation).

The following applicants who are required to enrol biometric information are exempted by the Regulations from the payment of the biometrics fee as a facilitative measure:

  • a properly accredited diplomat (see footnote 3), consular officer, representative or official of a country other than Canada, of the United Nations or any of its agencies or of any intergovernmental organization of which Canada is a member, the members of the suite of such a person and the family members of such a person;
  • A member of the armed forces of a country that is a designated state for the purposes of the Visiting Forces Act, including a person who has been designated as a civilian component of that visiting force under paragraph 4(c) of that Act and their family members;
  • A person who is seeking to enter Canada for the purpose of attending a meeting hosted by the Government of Canada, an organization of the United Nations or the Organization of American States, as a participant, for the purpose of attending a meeting as a representative of the Organization of American States or the Caribbean Development Bank, or for the purpose of attending a meeting hosted by the Government of Canada, an organization of the United Nations or the Organization of American States, at the invitation of the Government of Canada;
  • A person who is seeking to enter Canada as a competitor, coach, judge, team official, medical staff member or member of a national or international sports organizing body participating in the Pan-American Games, when held in Canada, or as a performer participating in a festival associated with any of those Games;
  • A person who is seeking to enter Canada for a period of less than 48 hours and is travelling by transporter’s vehicle to a destination other than Canada, or transiting through or stopping over in Canada for refuelling or for the continuation of their journey in another transporter’s vehicle;
  • A person applying for a study permit or work permit who is
    • a family member of a person in Canada who has made a refugee claim that has not yet been determined by the Refugee Protection Division;
    • a family member of a person in Canada on whom refugee protection has been conferred; and
    • a family member of a person who is a member of the Convention refugees abroad class or a humanitarian-protected persons abroad class; and
  • A person whose work in Canada would create or maintain reciprocal employment for Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada in other countries and who is a family member of an officer of a foreign government sent, under an exchange agreement between Canada and one or more countries, to take up duties with a federal or provincial agency.

The Regulations also provide for a maximum fee of $170 for family members who apply for a TRV at the same time and place and a maximum fee of $255 for groups of three or more performing artists and their staff who apply for a work permit at the same time and place. These maximum fees are consistent with those currently offered to families and performing artists and their staff when applying for visas or work permits.

Regulatory and non-regulatory options considered

The Regulations are necessary in order for the Government of Canada to implement systematic and mandatory collection of biometric information from TRV, study permit and work permit applicants. Although legislative amendments in PCISA set the framework for requiring biometric information, in order to implement this requirement the Government must prescribe the foreign nationals to whom it applies. Without these Regulations, CIC would not be able to collect biometric information on a systematic basis from temporary resident applicants. In the context of increasing challenges and pressures in accurately identifying clients and with the absence of a new identity management tool, immigration officials would likely require even more documentation or supporting evidence from applicants than they currently do to confirm an applicant’s identity. This would consume considerable government resources and inconvenience travellers. Further, the desired program integrity and travel facilitation benefits necessary in order to strengthen the TR program could not be realized.

If the Government only prescribed the foreign nationals to whom the requirement to provide biometric information is to apply, without prescribing the procedure and the type of biometric information that is required, CIC would be unable to oversee the biometric collection process, which would provide opportunities for individuals to commit fraud and would reduce the expected program integrity and security benefits. A lack of control over and clarity in relation to the biometric collection process would also hinder CIC’s ability to use biometric information for screening purposes, as the biometric information would be incompatible with CIC, CBSA and RCMP systems.

The Regulations will ensure greater transparency and clarity in the collection and use of biometric information and will ensure that the biometric requirements are enforceable.

Without these Regulations, the use and disclosure of biometric information for law enforcement purposes would occur in a less efficient manner than that provided for by the Regulations, as the RCMP would first be required to request the use and disclosure of the information for a law enforcement purpose in writing from CIC or CBSA under paragraph 8(2)(e) of the Privacy Act. With respect to the use and disclosure of biometric information for law enforcement purposes, the Regulations provide for a more transparent process whereby applicants will be informed of the potential uses of their personal information. Therefore, the Regulations allow for a more efficient process for the use and disclosure of information by the RCMP for the benefit of Canada while ensuring that information is used and shared in compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Privacy Act.

Finally, listing the fee, the fee exceptions and the fee maximums in the Regulations is consistent with the current approach whereby all other fees related to applications made under IRPA are set out in the Regulations.

Benefits and costs

It is estimated that the Regulations will result in an overall net benefit to Canadians. All costs and benefits were assessed in terms of incremental changes to the baseline scenario resulting from the Regulations.

The baseline scenario is the current situation (i.e. “no change” scenario) whereby there are no changes to Canada’s immigration identity management system beyond those that have currently received Royal Assent. (see footnote 4) Current procedures for identifying immigrants with biographical information would remain the same over the period in the baseline scenario. The baseline scenario assumes that the number of visa applicants would grow at a rate of 2.5%. Furthermore, because it is expected that the Regulations will reduce the rates of crime, immigration fraud and negative refugee claims (i.e. by deterring bad faith refugee claimants from making a claim (see footnote 5) per temporary resident application, the baseline scenario assumed that these rates would remain constant. There may be a decline in the number of refugee claims and negative refugee claims due to the recently introduced provisions under PCISA, apart from the coming into force of the Regulations. These, however, are conservative assumptions. In the absence of the Regulations, Canada would be one of the few countries with a similar immigration program (see footnote 6) to refrain from including the collection of biometric information in its immigration program and it is certainly possible that Canada could become a target for immigration fraud, with an increase in the rates of immigration-related offences over time.

Quantitative estimates

Monetizable costs and benefits were estimated on an annual basis for the years 2013 to 2022. This period includes the remaining year to set up the program (2013–14) that is considered the first year in the 10-year time period and 9 years of full implementation (2014–15 to 2022–23). All dollar values were estimated in 2012 real dollars. A 7% real discount rate was used. Summary results are presented in section A of Table 1 below.

It is estimated that the Regulations will result in an overall net benefit to Canadians. The estimated nominal cost is $528 million over the next 10 years. The present value (PV) of the costs is $392 million. The nominal value of the total benefits to Canada is $605 million with a PV of $499 million. Overall, the estimated net present value (NPV) is $106 million in benefits.

Quantitative costs

The quantitative, monetized cost estimates of the Regulations as outlined in section A of Table 1 include the upfront and ongoing program costs to implement the technology and international service delivery network necessary to require and collect biometric information. The federal government is responsible for all of the monetized costs of the program.

Certain individuals are authorized to make applications for TRVs, study permits and work permits in Canada. When the biometric requirements are implemented, prescribed foreign nationals located in Canada will therefore also be required to provide their biometric information when they make an in-Canada application for a TRV, a study permit or a work permit. However, because the capacity to collect biometrics in Canada will not be in place by 2013, CIC intends to temporarily and on a short-term basis not require these individuals to provide biometric information until such time that the capacity to collect biometrics in Canada is in place. Once the biometric collection capacity is in place, these individuals will be required to provide their biometric information. Therefore, the quantitative, though non-monetized, costs in section B of Table 1 include the costs incurred by individuals living in Canada who make an application in Canada for a TRV, a study permit or a work permit as they will be required to travel to a collection point within Canada to enrol their biometric information when they make such an application.

Quantitative benefits

The quantitative, monetized benefits in Table 1, section A, include a number of different benefits, such as the biometrics fee revenue that will help offset some of the program costs associated with the collection of biometric information. They also include a reduction in costs associated with negative refugee claims as the use of biometrics in the TR program will deter bad faith refugee claimants from making a claim. Bad faith refugee claimants who previously provided their biometric information in order to enter Canada as temporary residents will be prevented from hiding or fabricating their identity when they make their claim, thus deterring them from making a bad faith refugee claim.

It is estimated that the federal government will accrue a majority of the monetized benefits of the Regulations. In particular, the monetized benefits of reduced negative refugee claims, fewer removals and detentions and higher program integrity will all accrue directly to the federal government.

Provincial and territorial governments will accrue some of the monetized benefits of the Regulations. In particular, it is estimated that reduced provincial costs related to unfounded refugee claims will lead to a PV benefit of $103 million. Further, Canadians will accrue just under $14 million in present value benefits related to reduced criminality.

Qualitative impacts

There are some benefits and costs of the use of biometrics under the Regulations that could only be accounted for qualitatively, which are outlined in Table 1, section C. For example, the use of biometrics will increase program integrity, which is expected to have the qualitative benefit of making Canadians feel more confident about Canada’s immigration and refugee program.

If the new Regulations result in a drop in foreign visitors, there could be some impact on Canadian academic institutions, employers of foreign workers and Canada’s tourism industry. However, given that other countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, have indicated no significant drop in applications after the imposition of biometric requirements, it is not expected that any significant drop in the number of foreign nationals applying for a TRV, a study permit or a work permit will occur. These potential costs have not been monetized as they are considered secondary impacts and are expected to be negligible.

Sensitivity analysis

The cost-benefit analysis uses relatively conservative estimates of the number of known criminals and other immigration violators who could be deterred or stopped before entering Canada and the number of bad faith refugee claimants who could be deterred from making a claim. Using the current number of removals and detentions would likely result in underestimating the amount of deterrence. It is unclear how many TRV or refugee claims are being accepted now that would not be accepted after the introduction of biometrics in the TR program. Based on the range of proxies available from the use of biometrics for immigration purposes by Japan and the United States, an estimated range between 33% and 45% of bad faith refugee claimants (claimants seeking to hide or fabricate their identity after entering Canada as a temporary resident), known criminals and other persons who would contravene immigration laws from the prescribed countries and territory could be deterred or stopped once the collection of biometrics is in place. The results are highly sensitive to this variable because stopping and deterring potential criminals and persons who would contravene immigration laws from entering Canada and deterring bad faith refugee claimants represent the bulk of the monetized benefits.

Furthermore, it is estimated that the base number of visa and permit applications from the 30 biometrics-required countries and territory will be approximately 300 000, with a range of uncertainty of 10%. Because the biometrics fee will not cover the full cost of enrolling biometrics, an increase in the number of applicants will lead to higher costs to the federal government.

A Monte Carlo simulation was completed using triangular distributions on the variables mentioned above. The average NPV of the Regulations using the Monte Carlo analysis is $106 million. (see footnote 7) The 95% confidence interval of the Monte Carlo analysis of the NPV is between $84 million and $129 million, which indicates that even with more pessimistic assumptions regarding the costs and benefits of the Regulations, they are likely to yield net benefits.

Table 1: Cost-benefit summary statement

Cost-benefit statement

Base Year

2014

Final Year

Total (PV)

Average Annual

A. Quantified impacts (in thousands of dollars)

Benefits

Federal government

$24,947

$49,998

$59,554

$381,834

$38,183

Provincial governments

$6,754

$13,508

$16,057

$103,024

$10,302

Canadians

$897

$1,795

$2,133

$13,687

$1,368

Costs

Federal government

$49,502

$48,100

$57,176

$392,296

$39,229

Net benefits

$106,248

$10,624

B. Quantified impacts in non-dollars

Negative impacts

TRV, work permit and study permit applicants living in Canada and making an application in Canada

It is estimated that approximately 7 000 individuals living in Canada who make an application in Canada for a TRV, a study permit or a work permit will be required to provide their biometric information in person at a location inside Canada when making that application. In addition to the biometrics fee, these individuals will incur an extra cost for travelling to a biometrics collection service location.

C. Qualitative impacts

Benefits

Government of Canada, provincial and territorial governments, Canadian public

The Regulations will increase national security by reducing the number of criminals and immigration violators admitted to Canada, therefore reducing the number of crimes in Canada.

Government of Canada, provincial and territorial governments, Canadian public

The Regulations will increase the safety and security of all Canadians as biometric and related biographical information collected for immigration purposes will be used or disclosed by the RCMP for the enforcement of any Canadian federal or provincial law.

Government of Canada, provincial and territorial governments, Canadian public

Canadians will feel more confident about Canada’s immigration and refugee program, because the use of biometrics, as supported by the Regulations, will assist in detecting and deterring immigration fraud.

Government of Canada, provincial and territorial governments, Canadian public

The use of biometrics, in accordance with the Regulations, will support the objectives under the Canada–United States declaration called Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness and support stronger trade ties with the United States — Canada’s largest trading partner.

Government of Canada, provincial and territorial governments, Canadian public

The use of biometrics, as supported by the Regulations, will help Canada meet its immigration policy goals and those of its international partners, of reducing immigration fraud and other immigration crimes.

Government of Canada, provincial and territorial governments, Canadian public

The Regulations will increase economic benefits in the long term by facilitating the entry of repeat bona fide travellers as their identity will more easily be confirmed at the time of application.

Government of Canada

The use of biometrics, as supported by the Regulations, will facilitate the identity management and processing of undocumented refugee claimants if they had previously provided their biometric information as part of an application for a TRV, a study permit or a work permit.

Costs

Canadian academic institutions, employers of foreign workers and tourism industry

The Regulations may impact Canadian academic institutions, employers of foreign workers and Canada’s tourism industry as certain tourists, foreign workers and foreign students adjust to the new requirements. If the new Regulations result in an initial drop in foreign visitors there could be some impact on these industries.

“One-for-One” Rule

The “One-for-One” Rule with respect to creating new Regulations does not apply to these Regulations as they amend the current IRPR and do not create new Regulations. The “One-for-One” Rule with respect to administrative burden does not apply to these Regulations, as there is no change in administrative costs to business.

Small business lens

There is no direct anticipated impact on small business, as the Regulations do not impose administrative burden on or compliance costs to businesses. Rather, the new requirements apply to foreign nationals seeking TRVs, study permits or work permits. In some cases, employers agree to pay the immigration processing fees for their foreign employees by private arrangement; however, there is no regulatory obligation to do so and the direct regulatory obligation for the payment of fees lies with the applicant.

Consultation

As part of the planning for the introduction of biometrics in Canada’s TR program, which is supported by these Regulations, CIC has, since 2009, initiated and conducted in-person consultations with a number of organizations with mandates relating to immigration, security, privacy, the facilitation of trade and tourism and the attraction of foreign students. These organizations include the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (CAPIC), the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), the Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO), the Canadian Bar Association (CBA), the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform (CIPR), the CIC/Immigration Practitioners (CICIP), the Construction Sector Council (CSC), the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security (CCRS), the Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (FARMS), the Fraser Institute, Jonview Canada and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC).

A majority of stakeholders that participated in these consultation and engagement sessions expressed general support for the introduction of biometrics in the TR program. However, a number of stakeholders raised concerns regarding the decision to require biometric information from certain, but not all, foreign nationals. While some stakeholders were of the opinion that the scope of biometric collection should be expanded to include all temporary and permanent resident applicants for security and program integrity reasons, other stakeholders were concerned that limiting the scope of biometric collection to certain foreign nationals could be perceived as discriminatory.

Notwithstanding concerns raised by stakeholders regarding the scope of the application of the new biometric requirements, the Regulations limit the requirements to foreign nationals from certain visa-required countries and a territory who make an application for a TRV, study permit or work permit. The legislation does not permit the making of regulations to require biometric information in other types of immigration applications, such as permanent residence applications. With regard to limiting the requirements to citizens from certain countries and holders of travel documents from a certain territory and not extending the requirements to all foreign nationals, the decision on country and territory selection was based on multiple factors including immigration patterns, operational feasibility and broader Canadian interests. Future steps for broader implementation may be considered at a later date.

Stakeholders were also concerned with the impact that the new biometric requirements, such as the requirement to provide biometrics in person and the biometrics fee, would have on individuals seeking to come to Canada. Some stakeholders were concerned that the time and cost imposed by the new requirements could deter the elderly, foreign students and foreign workers from travelling to Canada.

However, the Regulations mitigate the risk that the new biometric requirements may deter certain individuals from travelling to Canada. For example, the Regulations exempt those applicants who are under the age of 14 and over the age of 79 from the biometric requirements. Furthermore, there are fee exemptions and fee maximums for certain applicants and the biometrics fee is comparable with that imposed by Canada’s international partners. Finally, the fee is low compared to the overall cost of international travel or tuition for foreign students.

Finally, although beyond the scope of the Regulations, the planned service delivery approach, which includes a service delivery network of VACs that provides biometric enrolment services in most countries selected for biometrics and also in other strategic locations, as well as the equipping of all visa offices with biometric collection equipment, should minimize the need for applicants to travel long distances to provide the required biometric information.

Some stakeholders also raised concerns and questions regarding the privacy protections of biometric information. Particular privacy concerns raised by stakeholders centred on the secondary use of biometric information for the purposes of enforcing Canadian federal and provincial laws. It is of note that there was concern with police agencies having routine access to immigration status information. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association was particularly interested in knowing what data would be shared with the RCMP.

The Regulations address these concerns by ensuring that biometric information collected for immigration purposes is used and disclosed by the RCMP in a transparent manner and by limiting the circumstances when the RCMP can use and disclose the personal information of immigration clients. They also limit the data elements that can be used and disclosed and do not authorize the sharing of immigration status information, which will not be routinely shared with law enforcement agencies.

Further, to mitigate privacy concerns, CIC has been working in close consultation with the OPC to ensure that adequate privacy protection safeguards are in place to protect applicants’ personal information when biometric information begins to be collected. In particular, CIC is implementing all of the recommendations made in an interim Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) that was completed in 2009. Some of the measures CIC is implementing in response to the PIA recommendations include updating Memoranda of Understanding with partner departments; establishing legislative authorities for the use and disclosure of biometric information; engaging stakeholders on all aspects of the biometrics initiative; and drafting a retention and disposition schedule for biometric information collected under this initiative. CIC also finalized and submitted an updated PIA in November 2012 and will continue to work closely with the OPC to ensure the ongoing protection of privacy of individuals.

Prepublication comments

The Regulations were prepublished in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on December 8, 2012, and were open for public comment for a period of 30 days. During the comment period CIC conducted information sessions for stakeholders, including institutions with mandates relating to immigration, security, privacy, the facilitation of trade and tourism and the attraction of foreign students, and representatives of implicated foreign governments.

Written representations were received from five respondents (one of whom provided comments that fell outside the scope of these Regulations). The four respondents that provided comments related to the Regulations consisted of a labour representative, a law firm, a technology vendor and the OPC. Three of the respondents expressed their general support for the proposed Regulations and provided suggestions for further improvement. The OPC acknowledged the challenges posed by identity verification and document fraud, CIC’s consultative work with that office, CIC’s privacy analysis and CIC’s extensions of opportunities to the OPC to comment on the proposed Regulations and provided comments which are addressed below. In summary, no changes were made to the Regulations as a result of the comments received during prepublication.

Prescribed foreign nationals

Two respondents commented that the biometric requirements should be expanded to all visa-required countries in all application streams. Notwithstanding these comments and as described in the “Consultation” section above, the Regulations limit the collection of biometric information to prescribed foreign nationals making temporary resident applications.

Technology and service delivery

During prepublication, two respondents called for the use of facial recognition technologies and three called for the expansion of the use of private sector entities (VACs) into areas beyond biometric collection, such as the authority to capture and authenticate applicant identity documents for pre-visa issuance authentication. The Regulations support the implementation of the TRBP and do not contemplate the increased use of VACs or the use of facial recognition technology, as such suggestions are beyond the scope of the TRBP announced in Budget 2008.

One respondent indicated that the proposed Regulations do not make reference to the databases that will be used for matching data against face and fingerprint biometrics. The “Objectives” and “Use and disclosure” sections of the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement above do, however, describe the details of the biometric screening and verification process, including the databases used.

Two respondents called for standardized technology for the collection of biometric information. The biometric capability is being built based on international standards so that software and hardware will be able to interface with other current or future products or systems. Furthermore, the Regulations that prescribe the procedure and the type of biometric information that is required allow CIC to oversee the biometric collection process and ensure that the biometric information collected is compatible with CIC, CBSA and RCMP systems.

Three respondents suggested that when CIC begins collecting biometric information from temporary resident applicants in 2013, it should be collected from applicants both within and outside of Canada. Because the capacity to collect biometric information within Canada will not be in place by 2013, CIC intends temporarily and on a short-term basis not to require individuals authorized to make TRV, study permit and work permit applications in Canada to provide biometric information when making such applications in Canada.

Privacy

In its written submission to the prepublished Regulations, the OPC commented on the need to take into account special precautions and privacy considerations when collecting biometric information. As discussed in the “Consultation” section above, CIC has been working in close consultation with the OPC to ensure that adequate privacy protection safeguards are in place to protect the personal information of applicants when it collects biometric information.

Information sharing

In its written submission concerning the prepublished Regulations, the OPC indicated that fully articulated and formalized information-sharing agreements are a key requirement given the wide range of public and private sector organizations potentially involved in the sharing of biometric information collected under the Regulations.

The privacy implications and legal implications of sharing biometric information collected under the Regulations have been considered by CIC. A number of mitigation strategies have been undertaken, including the signing of contracts with private sector service providers that will collect biometric information on behalf of CIC as well as new and updated Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) on information sharing between CIC and the RCMP, as well as between CIC and the CBSA and between the RCMP and the CBSA.

The sharing of biometric information with international partners in the future will also be governed by written agreements and arrangements that include safeguards to ensure that security and privacy requirements are respected.

Recourse

In its written submission, the OPC also indicated that the automated, international nature of biometric information-sharing that is eventually envisioned calls for a recourse process to reflect the concerns of individuals.

CIC has developed a recourse process for individuals who provide their biometric information under the proposed Regulations that will align with already established departmental processes for handling application complaints. This recourse process will be implemented and communicated to applicants before the implementation of biometric information collection, in accordance with the dates set out in subsection 12.1(1) of the Regulations.

With regard to the international nature of the sharing of biometric information, CIC will begin sharing biometric immigration information with the United States in 2014 under the Immigration Information Sharing Treaty — a separate initiative from these regulatory amendments. In addition to the recourse procedures described above and prior to the sharing of biometric information with the United States under this separate initiative, internal procedures will be developed to enable CIC to investigate and respond to client requests related to complaints regarding the results of a biometric check with international partners. This recourse process will be implemented and communicated to applicants before the sharing of biometric information with the United States begins.

Secondary use of information

In its written submission, the OPC also encouraged CIC to fully consider the secondary use and retention of biometric information for the purposes of law enforcement.

CIC has carefully considered the secondary use and retention of the biometric (and associated biographical) information that will be collected under IRPA and held during the retention period and that will be described in the relevant Personal Information Banks of Info Source by the time implementation of biometric information collection begins. A key objective of the secondary use of immigration personal information is to support decision making on the admissibility of immigrants to Canada. Admissibility screening not only occurs prior to an individual’s entry to Canada, but is an ongoing process whereby an individual must continue to meet the requirements of IRPA in order to stay in Canada or to re-enter Canada in the future. CIC and the CBSA have a significant interest in facilitating the prevention, investigation and prosecution of offences, as the outcome of these processes may ultimately affect an individual’s admissibility to Canada.

The process described in the Regulations to provide an immigration client’s personal information to a law enforcement agency has been determined to be less privacy-invasive than other processes which could have been established. Firstly, law enforcement agencies do not have access to entire immigration case files. They cannot view or access immigration fingerprint records unless they first submit a matching fingerprint query. Secondly, a Canadian law enforcement agency cannot query the fingerprint system using a name and date of birth in order to acquire the fingerprint or other personal information. Importantly, the process provided for by the Regulations allows for the use and disclosure of immigration client information only after a law enforcement agency has collected a matching fingerprint in the course of its own work.

Rationale

As stated above, the Regulations are integral to supporting the effective implementation of the collection and use of biometrics in Canada’s TR program. The Regulations establish the persons required to provide biometric information and the type of biometric information to be collected and used in order to strengthen the integrity of the TR program and facilitate travel. Using biometrics will strengthen the integrity of Canada’s immigration program by helping prevent known criminals and fraudsters from using a different identity to obtain a visa. Biometrics will also facilitate legitimate travel by enhancing the ability of CIC and the CBSA to effectively identify individuals during the visa application process and when they seek to enter Canada at a POE by, for example, readily confirming the identity of repeat travellers who have previously provided biometric information.

Furthermore, the risk that Canada could become an increased target for immigration fraud will be reduced, as the use of biometrics will put Canada in line with a growing list of like-minded countries that are now using, or preparing to use, biometrics in immigration and border management.

Finally, the Regulations provide for the use and disclosure of biometric information for law enforcement purposes which will increase the safety and security of Canadians by facilitating information sharing between CIC, the RCMP and other domestic law enforcement agencies, while at the same time ensuring information is shared in a limited and transparent manner in accordance with the Privacy Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It is expected that the introduction of biometrics in Canada’s immigration program, as supported by the Regulations, will contribute to the increased safety and security of Canadians and the prevention of abuse of the immigration system, will increase confidence in Canada’s immigration program and will demonstrate Canada’s continued commitment to international migration security.

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

The implementation of the Regulations supports the overall implementation of biometrics in Canada’s TR program. Major activities for the implementation of biometrics in the TR program include developing and introducing new biometric technology and enhancements to existing CIC, CBSA and RCMP systems in order to facilitate the collection and use of biometric information, as well as establishing a service delivery network for the collection of biometric information overseas.

VACs to be established overseas will be subject to a rigorous governance and oversight structure that will ensure quality control and clear service and performance requirements, including security and privacy safeguards. These safeguards have been built into the contracts with each service provider. Failure by a service provider to comply with the terms of a formal agreement could result in either the termination of the agreement or in other consequences. In addition, the biometrics collection system itself will contain strict technological safeguards to ensure that client information is collected and transmitted securely. In particular, biometric data will be encrypted immediately after it is collected by the service provider at the collection point and will be transmitted to the RCMP. Upon receipt of the biometric data by the RCMP, the data will be deleted from the biometrics collection system at the collection point.

Other implementation activities include human resources-related functions and the development of operational and administrative policies and procedures. In particular, a retention and disposal policy for biometric information collected from temporary residents will be developed, set out in the relevant Personal Information Banks found in Info Source and implemented. The retention period for the digital photographs will align with the retention policy being established for all digital photographs held by CIC. (see footnote 8) Fingerprints collected from temporary residents will be retained for 15 years from the date of collection. This retention period will ensure that CIC and CBSA have access to biometric records to verify identity throughout the validity period of a TRV (which could be up to 10 years) and would also allow for a reasonable period of time after the expiry of a visa to verify an individual’s identity should they re-apply to come to Canada. This fingerprint retention period will also assist CIC in identifying previously refused individuals who attempt to re-apply for a visa and travel to Canada under a different identity. For applicants who are refused under sections 34 to 37 of the IRPA for security reasons, human or international rights violations, or reasons relating to criminality, the retention period will be extended as these individuals present high risks to Canada and higher risks for identity fraud. Fingerprints collected from temporary resident applicants will not be deleted if they become permanent residents before the expiration of the retention period. However, their fingerprints will be deleted if they are granted Canadian citizenship in the event that it is granted to them before the expiration of the retention period.

Further, a communications strategy is being implemented to inform and engage foreign governments whose nationals will be required to provide biometric information, as well as to build awareness for affected applicants. Other communications activities include engaging non-governmental organizations that have an interest in tourism, international students, foreign workers, immigration or privacy matters for the purpose of consultation and building awareness and engaging with the media and the general public for the purpose of increasing awareness about the introduction of the biometrics in Canada’s TR program.

CIC will begin collecting biometrics in the TR program in 2013, with the requirement to provide biometric information fully implemented by late 2013. All implementation activities are being undertaken in consultation and in coordination with PS, CBSA, RCMP, DFAIT, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), Shared Services Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat as necessary.

Performance measurement and evaluation

A complete performance measurement and evaluation plan (PMEP) has been prepared for these Regulations and is available upon request. The PMEP outlines the activities and outputs that the Regulations support, as well as the resulting program and strategic outcomes that will be achieved.

The benefits associated with the use of biometrics are expected to accrue over time as a result of the Regulations. Key expected intermediate program outcomes include strengthening identity management and program integrity in the TR program and achieving closer alignment with international immigration and border management processes. Ultimate program outcomes are the increased safety and security of Canadians and the prevention of abuse of the immigration system, which will also result in increased confidence in Canada’s immigration program and the demonstration of Canada’s continued commitment to international migration security.

To measure these outcomes, many performance indicators have been developed. Indicators to measure intermediate program outcomes include measuring the extent to which cases reveal that known criminals from prescribed countries who are deemed inadmissible are refused a visa or permit on the basis of biometric information and assessing whether repeat clients experience an easier application and entry process as a result of biometrics. Indicators to measure ultimate program outcomes include measuring the perception of stakeholders regarding the safety and security of Canadians and abuse of the immigration system, assessing public opinion regarding confidence in Canada’s immigration system and obtaining evidence of alignment with international migration security commitments.

The outcomes of the Regulations will be monitored and evaluated as part of the planned broader evaluation of the use of biometrics in the TR program. In early 2014, a project close-out evaluation will be conducted to assess success in transitioning to the biometric solution for the collection of information, define lessons learned and measure success in achieving project delivery objectives. At this point, significant operational experience will allow further confirmation of ongoing viability and the prioritization of any improvements required. Additional broader evaluations will be scheduled to take place in fiscal years 2015–2016 and 2018–2019.

Because the evaluation planned for 2015–2016 will occur one year after full implementation of biometrics in the TR program, the focus of the evaluation will be directed at the achievement of the immediate outcomes described above as well as program design and delivery. The focus of the 2018–2019 evaluation will be on the achievement of the intermediate outcomes described above, the relevance and continuing need for biometrics, alignment with current federal government priorities and consistency with the role of the federal government. This evaluation will also explore the extent to which the management response action items for the 2015–2016 evaluation have been implemented and are expected to be completed.

Contact

Chris Gregory
Director
Identity Management and Information Sharing
Admissibility Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
300 Slater Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1L1
Email: Chris.Gregory@cic.gc.ca

  • Footnote a
    S.C. 2008, c. 3, s. 2
  • Footnote b
    S.C. 2001, c. 27
  • Footnote c
    S.C. 2012, c. 17, s. 6
  • Footnote d
    S.C. 2012, c. 17, s. 9(2)
  • Footnote e
    S.C. 2012, c. 31, s. 313(4)
  • Footnote f
    S.C. 2012, c. 17, s. 47(2)
  • Footnote g
    S.C. 2001, c. 27
  • Footnote 1
    SOR/2002-227
  • Footnote 2
    Countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and members of the European Union Schengen Zone have all started, or are about to start, using biometric data collection and verification as part of their immigration programs.
  • Footnote 3
    A properly accredited diplomat, consular officer, representative, or official seeking to enter Canada in the course of official duties is exempt from providing biometric information.
  • Footnote 4
    Recent changes as a result of the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act are expected to reduce the number of fraudulent refugee claims and the cost of processing refugee claims regardless of whether these regulations come into force.
  • Footnote 5
    The introduction of biometrics in the temporary resident program will facilitate the identification of undocumented refugee claimants who previously provided their biometric information as part of an application to enter Canada as a temporary resident, thus deterring bad faith refugee claimants from making a claim since they will no longer be able to hide or fabricate their identity if they enter Canada as a temporary resident.
  • Footnote 6
    Countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and members of the European Union Schengen Zone, have all started, or are about to start, using biometric data collection and verification as part of their immigration programs.
  • Footnote 7
    It should be noted that varying other variables in the model, such as the discount rate (e.g. at 3%, 5%), did not alter the overall NPV results significantly, which indicates that the results of the cost-benefit analysis model are robust.
  • Footnote 8
    As part of CIC’s modernization agenda, all photographs submitted or collected as part of an immigration application or claim will be held in a digital format as part of the client’s file.