U.S, Canada Sign Visa and Immigration Sharing Agreement
U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson and the Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney signed a U.S.-Canada Visa and Immigration Information-Sharing Agreement on December 13, 2012.
This agreement will enable Canada and the United States to share information from third country nationals who apply for a visa or permit to travel to either country. This will better protect the safety and security of Americans and Canadians and facilitate legitimate travel and business. Increased information sharing will support better decision-making by both countries to confirm applicants’ identities, and identify risks and inadmissible persons at the earliest opportunity. It will increase safety and security, as both countries work to identify terrorists, violent criminals, and others who pose a risk before they reach our borders. All officers working on immigration and refugee protection will be equipped with more information to make decisions. This will better protect the safety and security of Americans and Canadians alike and further facilitate legitimate travel.
The agreement authorizes development of arrangements under which the United States may send an automated request for data to Canada, such as when a third country national applies to the United States for a visa or claims asylum. Such a request would contain limited information, such as name and date of birth in the case of biographic sharing, or an anonymous fingerprint in the case of biometric sharing. If the identity matches that of a previous application, immigration information may be shared, such as whether the person has previously been refused a visa or removed from the other country. The same process would apply in reverse when a third country national applies to Canada for a visa or claims asylum. Biographic immigration information sharing is set to begin in 2013, and biometric sharing in 2014.
Under the agreement, information will not be shared regarding U.S. or Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Any information shared on travellers and asylum seekers will be handled responsibly and, as with other information sharing agreements, exchanged in accordance with relevant U.S. and Canadian laws.