OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec 13, 2012) - In another step toward improving border security, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Kenney and United States Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson signed today the Immigration Information Sharing Treaty, a key part of the Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan.
"Today''s important agreement builds on our countries'' mutual efforts to protect our common borders and the surrounding perimeter, through improved screening of immigrants and visitors, before they enter Canada and the United States," said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. "Enhanced information sharing of foreign nationals will protect the safety and security of Canadians by helping us prevent terrorists, violent criminals, and others, who pose a risk, from entering Canada or the United States in the first place."
"This important agreement is the culmination of ten years of effort to advance the security of the United States and Canada, and to ensure the integrity of our immigration and visa systems. It reflects the commitment of President Obama and Prime Minister Harper to the Beyond the Border process, which will enhance North American security while facilitating the efficient movement of safe goods and well-intentioned travellers," said David Jacobson, United States Ambassador to Canada.
Under the Immigration Information Sharing Treaty, no information will be shared on Canadian or American citizens or permanent residents.
The historic Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan was signed in 2011 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama. The Action Plan will accelerate the vital flow of people and goods between both countries, promoting job creation and economic competitiveness, while strengthening the security of both countries.
As part of the Action Plan, Canada and the United States committed to share immigration information to improve border efficiency and security, by establishing and verifying the identities of foreign nationals, and identifying those who are inadmissible at the earliest opportunity.
The adoption of the Treaty enables our two countries to share systematically information from third-country nationals who apply for a visa or a permit to travel to either country. The Treaty also provides an additional tool for regular, systematic information sharing on inland asylum claimants, which already occurs on a case-by-case basis under an existing agreement between Canada and the United States.
Biographic immigration information sharing is set to begin in 2013 and biometric sharing in 2014.
"Increased information sharing on immigration and refugee applicants will support better decision making by both countries in order to confirm identities, and identify risks and inadmissible persons before they reach our borders," said Minister Kenney. "The requirement to provide biometrics in our temporary resident immigration program will bring Canada in line with many of our international partners. Coupled with enhanced information sharing with the United States, our ability to screen out people who try to abuse our respective immigration programs will be significantly strengthened."
Any information shared on travellers and asylum seekers will be handled responsibly and, as with other information sharing agreements, exchanged in accordance with relevant Canadian laws including the Privacy Act to ensure individuals'' privacy rights are considered and protected.
Even with increased information sharing, Canada retains its sovereignty in making admissibility decisions. Canadian visa officers and border services officers will continue to consider all information presented before making admissibility decisions in accordance with Canadian immigration law.
Enhanced screening initiatives, including systematic immigration information sharing and the Electronic Travel Authorization system, were agreed to in the Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan to achieve the security and economic competitiveness goals outlined in the Beyond the Border Declaration. The Declaration articulates a shared vision in which both countries work together to address threats at the earliest point possible while facilitating the legitimate movement of people, goods and services across our shared border.
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Photo of Minister Kenney will be available later today at: www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/photos/high-res/index.asp.
Building a stronger Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strengthens Canada''s economic, social and cultural prosperity, helping ensure Canadian safety and security while managing one of the largest and most generous immigration programs in the world.