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Canada, U.S. ink biometric data sharing deal for visa applicants


Under a new treaty, Canada will soon begin sharing biometric information about visa applicants with the United States which could also provide it to other countries, The Canadian Press reports.

As people apply for visas to come to travel, study or work in Canada, they are increasingly required to submit their biometrics, including fingerprints and facial images. As reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, Canada will require biometric information from nationals of 29 different countries when applying for temporary visas, as a part of the Temporary Resident Biometrics Project.

Under the new data-sharing treaty, biographical information will be shared by 2013 and biometric information will be shared by 2014. Washington could share the biometric information from these applications with an outside country to verify a person’s identity.

The idea behind this initiative is to strengthen North American security while speeding the passage of goods and people.

According to the Canadian Press report, data Canada provides to the U.S. will be compared with various data banks to identify previously failed refugee claimants, deportees and those trying to enter under false identities.

“If there is a positive hit, we will be notified of that,” Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said. “If the hit indicates something problematic – that perhaps that person had previously been deported by the United States, or that in fact the person has an alias – then we’ll be able to more closely explore their real identity and whether they are admissible to Canada, or would constitute a security risk.”

Washington will also check their applicants with Canada when someone applies to the U.S. for a visa or claims asylum.

Either Canada or the U.S. can share information with the government of a third country, only with consent from the providing country, to verify someone’s identity or to determine whether identity documents are genuine.

Canada and the U.S. have both committed to making “best efforts” to ensure no personal information is disclosed to a country from which the applicant has fled as a refugee, or a country in which the person’s family members reside and might be endangered by such information exchanges.

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