What does Canada do with the data it acquires from immigration applications at the border?

By Eva Olsen [Published 07 Feb, 2022 | 05:11 AM] 1522
What does Canada do with the data it acquires from immigration applications at the border?

Starting February 2019, the Canadian border has been able to gather basic passenger information and communicate it with Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) under the Entry/Exit Program.

The information is used by the IRCC to verify residency requirements for permanent residence applications, work permits, study permits, and Canadian citizenship applications. Some programs require candidates to spend a particular amount of time in Canada. Permanent residents, for example, must have been physically present in Canada for 1,095 days out of the five years preceding the date of their application in order to apply for citizenship.

The Entry/Exit Program allows IRCC to query the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) for passenger information via the Global Case Management Technology (GCMS), which is the system IRCC utilizes to handle immigration applications.

What kind of information is available?

For the time being, the Entry/Exit program is only available to visitors arriving in Canada by land or air. It is still not possible to travel to Canada by sea or rail. Through the Entry/Exit program, IRCC has access to the following information:

  1. Given and family names
  2. Alases
  3. Date of birth
  4. Gender
  5. Country of birth
  6. Country of citizenship
  7. Passport details
  8. Date of entry/exit

How the IRCC makes use of entry/exit data

According to the government's website, IRCC can use data from entry and exit to:

  • verify residency requirements in support of citizenship (CIT) or permanent resident cards applications; 
  • verify if a temporary residence applicant has previously overstayed their allowable period of admission in Canada; 
  • assist in an investigation of an individual's entitlement to a Canadian travel document; 
  • verify sponsors' residency in Canada; 
  • verify the residency of spouses and partners under the spouse or common-law partner;

Client consent is not required for IRCC to query traveller entry and exit information. They have access to the material if it is necessary for an IRCC officer to make a decision about a specific program. Only IRCC jobs that determine application decisions have access to the GCMA's Entry/Exit data.

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Officers of the IRCC are only permitted to reveal entry and exit information if it is required to run the IRPA and is covered by an information-sharing agreement. CBSA must oversee any disclosure not protected by a memorandum of understanding or another information-sharing arrangement.

All authorized CBSA workers have access to the data because CBSA owns it.

Access to information requests under the Privacy Act allows travellers to obtain a copy of their personal travel history. Travelers can contact the CBSA to request a correction.

Applications for temporary residence

For the following application categories, IRCC can request Entry/Exit information:

  • temporary resident visas
  • temporary resident permits
  • visitor records
  • work permits and work permit extensions
  • study permits and study permit extensions
  • electronic travel authorizations (eTAs)

The data on entry and exit can be utilized to see if a foreign individual has previously overstayed their visa in Canada. This is referred to by the government as "overstay monitoring." It starts when a visitor enters Canada and concludes when they leave. When the GCMS is queried, an "overstay indicator" will display as a ticked box if the applicant has overstayed their visit.

Once a sufficient number of air carriers are on-boarded, IRCC expects to overstay indicators for temporary residents to begin displaying in Entry/Exit search results in November 2022.

Applications for permanent residency

IRCC has access to entry/exit information for the following permanent residency application types:

  1. Cards for permanent residents
  2. Travel documentation for permanent residents
  3. Family sponsorships 
  4. Refugees from other countries

The information can be used to illustrate periods of time spent in and outside of Canada, allowing IRCC to determine whether or not residence has been maintained. IRCC may conduct an Entry/Exit inquiry in addition to residence requirements to examine misrepresentation or revocation of Canadian papers.

Entry/Exit data can be used to assess if a sponsor is residing in Canada for family sponsorship applications.

Applications for citizenship

In citizenship applications, exit/exit data can be used to:

  • ensure that the conditions for citizenship are met in terms of physical presence;
  • assist in the verification of other requirements, such as the identification of probable permanent resident status loss, the requirement for applicants to produce foreign police certificates, or deception;
  • ensure that the physical presence requirements for citizenship reinstatement have been met; and
  • assist in cases of revocation of Canadian citizenship.

This data collection method helps the Canadian government in accessing the stay period of the immigrants in Canada and a lot more valuable information, in a positive way. So, make sure to read it once more!

Tags: Canada border Canada Border Service Agency Canada citizenship Canada immigration Canadian immigration CBSA entry/exit program IRCC


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