On Thursday PM Harper declared that all those entering Canada with student, work and tourist visas would have to undergo biometric screening. The practice is already in place for travellers from around two dozen countries such as Egypt, Syria and Afghanistan.
Harper announced $312.6 million over five years to expand biometric screening measures to all foreign travellers entering Canada on a visa. These important measures will give officials the tools they need to verify the identity of travellers and further improve the security and integrity of our borders.
According to the PMO, this increased support will expand biometric screening to all foreign nationals (excluding U.S. citizens) applying for a work or study permit, as well as those applying for temporary (visitor visa) or permanent residency in Canada. It will come into effect once supporting legislative and regulatory amendments are finalized. It is expected to be in place by 2018-2019. The initiative will be implemented jointly by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and Shared Services Canada (SSC).
More than 70 other countries including the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand already use biometric screening for travellers entering their soil. This new move is expected to add another layer of security for Canada and is aimed at catch terrorists, fraudulent immigrants and jihadis returning from battles overseas.
Biometric identifiers are the distinctive, measurable characteristics used to label and describe individuals. Physiological examples include, but are not limited to fingerprint, palm veins, face recognition, DNA, palm print, hand geometry, iris recognition, and retina.
The new measure is expected to strengthen the safety and security of Canadians by reducing identity fraud and preventing the entry of inadmissible people, including known criminals to Canada, while ensuring that Canada’s borders remain open for trade.
The expanded biometric screening program will be convenient for travellers who will be able to provide their biometrics at 180 biometric collection service points in 94 countries, with an additional 135 biometrics collection service points across the U.S.