Cross border data exchange aids Canadian visa crackdown

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Cross-border data exchange with the United States is helping Canada crack down on immigration violators.

According to reports, the Canadian government has flagged more than 1,000 possible cases of people overstaying their visas or committing other immigration.

The effort involves exchanging entry information collected from people at the land border.

The data includes the traveller’s name, nationality, date of birth and gender, the country that issued their travel document and the time, date and location of their crossing.

The first two phases of the program were limited to foreign nationals and permanent residents of Canada and the U.S., but not citizens of either country.

Canada’s border agency has begun sharing information with U.S. Homeland Security about the thousands of American citizens who cross into Canada each day. Legislation being debated in Parliament would allow Washington to provide Ottawa with similar information about Canadians entering the U.S.

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Between June 2013 and October 2015, Canada received nine million exit records from the U.S., resulting in over 1,000 cases being referred to immigration officials. Such data is helpful in identifying visitors who stay in Canada longer than their visa allows.

It can also establish that someone has left Canada, leading to cancellation of 26 immigration warrants and 69 removal orders during the period.

Once the legislation is passed, information-sharing on all travellers crossing the land border will take place.

Canada also plans to begin collecting information on people leaving by plane — something the United States already does — by requiring airlines to submit passenger manifest data for outbound international flights.

This is expected to improve monitoring of visa compliance.

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Canada also intends to use the information to track high-risk travellers such as fugitives, suspected terrorists, registered sex offenders, smugglers and exporters of illegal goods.

In addition, the data will help verify whether people have complied with residency requirements and determine their entitlement to social benefits, which may require a presence in Canada.

Data sharing doesn’t really affect most Canadians who have nothing to hide, however, the ones that should sit up and take note are those who may have something the government shouldn’t know about them. – CINEWS

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