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.
As mentioned previously, 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.
Since June 2018, 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.
In a written submission, TIAC urged the Government of Canada to implement a number of solutions around the updated biometric requirements, one of which was has been ensuring adequate and/or additional Visa Application Centres (VACs) are available in busy markets.
On June 29, IRCC announced they will be adding Visa Application Centers (VACs) to key markets by the end of the year:
- Kigali, Rwanda; Stockholm, Sweden; and Tel Aviv, Israel by mid-September 2018
- Athens, Greece; Berlin, Germany; Lyon, France; and Vienna, Austria in early November 2018
- Antananarivo, Madagascar and Cape Town, South Africa in early December 2018
Additional VACs will also open in 2019.
While this helps to address the issue of access to VACs in some markets, TIAC remains concerned with implementation of Biometrics and we will continue to advocate for additional resources, robust communication and a phased-in approach:
- 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.