Canada’s federal immigration ministry has been able to track the movements of travellers entering and leaving the country by land since February 2019.
The number of days a foreign national stays in the country is relevant to applications for work permits, study permits, visitor visas, permanent residence status, and Canadian citizenship.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has been able to obtain traveller information from the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) through the Entry/Exit Program.
When travellers cross the U.S. border from Canada, their basic information is sent to CBSA in the form of an “exit report.”
IRCC can now access traveller information for “the administration and enforcement of immigration and citizenship programs,” according to the CBSA webpage.
Basic information collected at the border includes:
Date of birth;
Nationality or citizenship;
Travel document information including type, number and issuing country.
The Entry/Exit Program is expected to be extended to air travel in June 2020.
What is the purpose of the Entry/Exit Program?
IRCC will have access to traveller information in order to verify residency requirements such as those in applications for Canadian citizenship and permanent residence, the government webpage says.
They will also be able to tell whether foreign nationals have overstayed their allowable period of admission to Canada.
The information will facilitate IRCC’s investigations into a person’s entitlement to a Canadian travel document, as well as support investigations of possible fraud related to immigration, citizenship, passport and travel document programs.
In addition, IRCC will be able to verify that sponsors and partners reside in Canada for inland family class programs.
IRCC will also verify whether or not a refugee claimant came to Canada using their travel documents.
How will the information be used
IRCC says entry and exit information will be used for application types across all lines of business in immigration, citizenship and investigations.
Information gathered through the Entry/Exit Program can be used to determine if a foreign national has previously exceeded their period of stay in Canada.
IRCC will use entry and exit information for the following temporary residence application types:
temporary resident visas;
temporary resident permits;
work permits and work permit extensions;
study permits and study permit extensions; and
electronic travel authorizations (eTAs).
“As air carriers begin sharing their data (2020 to 2021), overstay indicators will begin appearing within the Entry/Exit search results for temporary residents who have overstayed their allowable time in Canada,” the IRCC webpage says. “This will prompt IRCC officers to make an informed determination on select temporary residence applications.”
IRCC will use entry and exit information for the following permanent residence application types:
permanent resident cards;
permanent resident travel documents;
overseas refugees; and
family class sponsorships.
Data collected for these application types will track the periods of time immigration candidates spend in and outside Canada. Applicants must be in Canada for at least 730 days in every five year period in order to qualify for permanent residence.
Exit and entry data will be used to assist the IRCC in checking for the potential loss of permanent resident status, and misrepresentation. It will also assist in verifying foreign police certificates.
Inland refugee claims
IRCC will use entry and exit data to investigate the travel history of in-Canada asylum seekers, and verify information provided by claimants.
Records that show inconsistencies on the claimant’s application could prompt further investigation.
Those applying for Canadian citizenship must also demonstrate physical presence in the county for at least 1095 days within the five years immediately preceding the date of application.
The information will also be used to assist in cases where Canadian citizenship may be revoked.
Citizenship revocation investigations
Entry and exit data will be used to determine whether or not the candidate has made a false statement about their residence in Canada for the purpose of acquiring citizenship.
The information will be used to facilitate investigations into an individual’s entitlement to Canadian passport services. Data may be used to validate travel history, and may be used to determine whether a passport may be refused or revoked in case of misuse, or fraud.
Travellers have the right to request a copy of their personal travel history. If they find an error in their file, they may ask CBSA to correct it.
If a request to correct travel information has been made, IRCC officers are notified and are able to obtain the most up-to-date information from CBSA.
IRCC is required to comply with the Privacy Act. Officers are not authorized to disclose entry and exit information unless it is necessary for the administration of the Immigration Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and is covered under a memorandum of understanding or similar information-sharing agreements.
CBSA has information-sharing agreements with the Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP), Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).