As reported in previous TIAC Talk publications over the past two months, TIAC has been meeting with officials from IRCC and our own Minister of Small Business and Tourism as well as officials from both departments to express our concerns regarding the roll-out of new Biometric requirements for certain travellers to Canada.
TIAC has long supported and advocated for the use of technology as a means of streamlining the visa application process and facilitating the movement of people across borders. The implementation of biometric collection has potential to not only strengthen the safety and security of our borders, but also speed up the verification and evaluation of visitor visas, particularly for temporary resident tourist applicants over time. While we support this, TIAC has been unequivocal that implementation must include adequate resources and robust communications to avoid hampering Canada’s ability to remain competitive and welcome an increasing number of visitors.
TIAC recently capitalized on the opportunity to invite IRCC representatives to attend RVC, Canada’s largest inbound-tourism marketplace event, as an important step in communicating directly with stakeholders and hear their concerns. We wish to thank all those who made time to discuss these changes with IRCC officials during RVC 2018.
Since then, IRCC has begun distribution of some communication tools to help clarify the new process and timing of implementation. The following links in English and French provide some basic information:
In addition to these links, we wish to ensure that potential international students who need a study permit are aware that they will be required to provide biometrics as part of their visa application as of July 31, 2018. The additional links below provide specific information clarifying who is required to apply for a study permit, how to apply, etc.
TIAC continues to believe that the proposed timing does not allow enough time for consumers and tourism trade partners to be aware of the changes and allow them to plan accordingly. We have been informed that IRCC will be adding Visa Application Centers (VACs) as well as resources in affected markets as we recommended, however detailed plans are not yet public. In a written submission, TIAC urged the Government of Canada to implement the following solutions:
- Amend implementation dates to ensure that the collection of biometrics begin first with only those seeking permanent residency and work visas before including temporary resident and student visa applicants. This would allow greater time to adapt to this new process, work out any unforeseen issues and minimize any negative impacts on visitation to Canada;
- Postpone all implementation for biometric collection on temporary resident and study permit applicants by 12 months;
- Ensure adequate and/or additional Visa Application Centres are present in busy markets based on historical visitor data and projections;
- Increase Visa Application Centres staffing in each and every market where biometrics will be collected to meet visitor demands and set up new “Canada booths” at existing Migration 5 partner locations;
- Develop a network of alternative collection points with trusted partners to collect biometric data;
- Conduct a thorough market review to ensure there are enough collection locations in the major markets to meet demand and extra complications to provide this data;
- Develop and execute advertising campaigns in major tourism markets as well as those with more than 1,000 students to raise awareness of the new requirements and provide time for students and families to plan accordingly.
We encourage our members to forward the above-noted links to affected stakeholders and partners. TIAC will continue to pressure government in the coming weeks and months to ensure a smooth transition. Stay tuned for more information from TIAC in future editions of TIAC Talk.