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Canada Immigration: how Canada utilises personal information acquired at the border

The Entry/Exit programme enables Canadian border services to share information about travellers with Immigration Canada. Once enough air carriers are on-boarded, IRCC anticipates overstay signs for temporary residents to start displaying in Entry/Exit search results in November 2022.

Since February 2019, the Canadian border has been able to gather basic passenger information and communicate it with Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada under the Entry/Exit Program (IRCC).

The information is used by the IRCC to verify residency requirements for permanent residence applications, work permits, study permits, and Canadian citizenship applications. Some programmes require candidates to spend a particular amount of time in Canada. Permanent residents, for example, must have been physically present in Canada for 1,095 days out of the five years preceding to the date of their application in order to apply for citizenship.

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The Entry/Exit Program allows IRCC to query the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) for passenger information via the Global Case Management Technology (GCMS), which is the system IRCC utilises to handle immigration applications.

What kind of data is available?

For the time being, the Entry/Exit programme is only available to visitors arriving in Canada by land or air. It is not currently possible to go to Canada by sea or train. Through the Entry/Exit programme, IRCC has access to the following information:

• surnames and given names

• aliases

• your birthdate

• gender

• country of origin

• citizenship country

• passport information

• the entry/exit date

The information is stored in the GCMS, which IRCC can utilise to manage the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), the Citizenship Act, and the Canadian Passport Order as needed.

How the IRCC makes use of entry/exit data

IRCC can utilise Entry/Exit data to: 

• verify residency requirements in support of applications for grants of citizenship (CIT) or permanent resident cards, according to the government website;

• check to see whether a temporary resident applicant has already overstayed their entry time in Canada;

• aid in the examination of a person's eligibility for a Canadian travel document;

• confirm that the sponsors are Canadian citizens;

• verify spouses' and partners' residence in Canada under the spouse or common-law partner class;

• check to see if a refugee claimant used their travel papers to enter Canada; and

• Assist with fraud investigations involving immigration, citizenship, and passport/travel document program.

Client agreement is not required for IRCC to query passenger entrance and departure information. They have access to the material if it is necessary for an IRCC officer to make a decision about a specific programme. Only IRCC jobs that determine application decisions have access to the GCMA's Entry/Exit data.

Officers of the IRCC are only permitted to provide entrance and exit information if it is required to run the IRPA and is covered by an information-sharing agreement. CBSA must oversee any disclosure not protected by a memorandum of understanding or other information-sharing arrangement.

All authorised CBSA workers have access to the data since CBSA owns it.

An access to information request under the Privacy Act allows travellers to obtain a copy of their personal travel history. Travelers can contact the CBSA to seek a correction.

Applications for temporary residency

For the following application categories, IRCC can request Entry/Exit information:

• visas for temporary residents

• Permits for temporary residence

• logs of visitors

• Permits and renewals for work permits

• study permits and renewals of study permits

• travel authorizations via electronic means (eTAs)

The data on entry and exit can be utilised to see if a foreign individual has previously overstayed their visa in Canada. This is referred to by the government as "overstay monitoring." It starts when a visitor enters Canada and concludes when they leave. When the GCMS is queried, a "overstay indication" will display as a ticked box if the applicant has overstayed their visit.

Once a sufficient number of air carriers are on-boarded, IRCC anticipates overstay signs for temporary residents to begin displaying in Entry/Exit search results in November 2022.

Applications for permanent residency

IRCC has access to entry/exit information for the following permanent residency application types:

• cards for permanent residents

• travel papers for permanent residents

• Refugees from other countries

• Sponsorships for family classes

The information can be used to illustrate periods of time spent in and outside of Canada, allowing IRCC to determine whether or not residency has been maintained. IRCC may conduct an Entry/Exit enquiry in addition to residence requirements to examine misrepresentation or revocation of Canadian papers.

Entry/Exit data can be used to assess if a sponsor is resident in Canada for family sponsorship applications.

Applications for citizenship

Exit/Exit data may be utilised in citizenship applications to: 

• ensure that physical presence requirements for citizenship awards are met;

• aid in the verification of other criteria, such as probable permanent resident status loss, the necessity for applicants to produce foreign police certificates, or deception;

• confirm that the physical presence conditions for reinstatement of citizenship have been met; and

• provide assistance in circumstances when Canadian citizenship has been revoked.

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