Updated: Nov 12, 2018
Canada is embarking on an expansion program for biometric data in preparation for December 31, 2018. This is the date when people from certain countries, including the Americas, Asia and the Asia Pacific will be required to provide biometric data if they apply for a Canada visa to visit the country or apply for a work or study permit. It's important to note that biometric data isn't required when applying for a Canada ETA. The application process for a Canada ETA is still a simple online process. However, Canada visa applicants and other applicant categories must provide fingerprints and a photograph as part of supplying their biometric data, which also applies to those making permanent residence applications.
Using biometric data has several advantages. Not only does it help to keep people out of Canada if they represent a threat to the country's safety and security, but it also supports officials dealing with Canada immigration to better manage applications and individual identities. This means application processing is swifter and easier and those who have legitimate identities will be able to enter the country more easily.
The majority of individuals applying to enter Canada will need to provide their biometric data before crossing the border. This is why the Canadian Government is widening its collection of Visa Application Centers (VACs) across the world. More centers will mean that services are available to a wider audience.
The biometrics expansion program's first phase has already been successfully implemented in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Individuals in these countries have had to provide biometric data since the end of July 2018. After the initial phase started, Canada opened centers in places including Athens, Kigali, Stockholm, Berlin and Tel Aviv.
A few of the above centers have replaced temporary facilities that opened in a supportive capacity for the first phase of the expansion program in Europe. The aim is for 152 centers to be up and running in 103 different countries by the end of December 2018. Included in these will be new centers in Antananarivo, Madagascar, and Cape Town. Plans are in place for more to open and announcements regarding these are expected soon.
The Government is monitoring the progress of the biometrics collection program to ensure that it provides a high-quality service to meet the needs of applicants. The aim is to make it as simple as possible to provide biometrics data. Therefore, applicants can provide the necessary information in any center in a country they legally have access to. In addition, Canada is improving the VACs already in operation to ensure that service standards are met.
A top priority for the Canadian government is data privacy when handling biometric data. Therefore, the government has integrated safeguarding measures into policies, procedures and technical processes. These have taken the practices of international partners into consideration, which are good examples of existing successful biometrics programs.
In other news, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, has recently made an announcement about the new 2019-2021 plans for multi-year immigration levels. Since immigrants contribute to the country's economic development and ensure that Canada remains globally competitive, the new plan will bring benefits to all Canadians. It’s based on the strong economic plan set out last year, continuously increasing the numbers of permanent residents in Canada as part of Canada immigration. In terms of statistics, levels of immigrants are set to grow from 330,800 in 2019 to 350,000 in 2021, which will be nearly 1% of the country's population.
The Minister highlighted how important economic immigration is in driving innovation within the country. This is why the government's plan for immigration is focused on attracting talented individuals from international locations. Most of the 2021 increase in immigrants will come from highly skilled economic workers. New entrants will help Canadian businesses to flourish, especially in the growing information and communications technology sectors. Currently, these comprise 33% of migrant workers.
Canada has already been host to generations of migrant workers who have contributed their skills to local communities across the country. Immigration is an important part of the country's future economic development and not only helps to drive economic growth but also to tackle some of the challenges faced by the country such as the ageing population.
In conclusion, the new multi-year immigration levels plan will help Canada's businesses by providing a skilled workforce and ensuring that Canada remains a major global competitor. The levels plan has a strong base that was first established in 2017 and aims to bring in talented individuals from all over the world.