SOR/2017-79: Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations — Regulations Amending Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
REGISTRATION OF FEDERAL REGULATION - VIA PART II OF THE GAZETTE
May 6, 2017
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT (This statement is not part of the Regulations.) Issues The Five Country Conference (FCC) is a long-standing forum for cooperation between the border and immigration agencies of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Given the commonalities among these immigration programs, the sharing of immigration information among FCC pa... (Click for more)
Published on May 20, 2017
SOR/2017-79: Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations — Regulations Amending Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT (This statement is not part of the Regulations.) Issues The Five Country Conference (FCC) is a long-standing forum for cooperation between the border and immigration agencies of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Given the commonalities among these immigration programs, the sharing of immigration information among FCC partners is a particularly beneficial element of this cooperation. While manual and case-by-case information exchanges with FCC partners have proven to be a valuable tool for immigration decision-makers, the labour-intensive process involved has limited the number of cases for which information exchanges may take place. In 2013, Canada began automating immigration information exchanges with the United States, supported by regulatory amendments to enable (though not require) these exchanges. To bolster the benefits achieved through manual information sharing, Canada is today seeking to establish a similar automated capability to exchange immigration information with its remaining FCC partners, namely Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Background Canada has long recognized that sharing immigration information responsibly with close allies enhances its immigration programs. Such sharing provides officers with additional information to assist in assessing the potential risk posed by an applicant to Canada and to the integrity of the immigration system, thereby assisting them in combating immigration fraud, protecting Canada’s security interests, and facilitating the legitimate movement of people. Since 2009, Canada has manually run a small number of fingerprint-based immigration checks with each FCC partner as part of the High Value Data Sharing Protocol (the Protocol), an immigration information-sharing arrangement that was introduced as a pilot for automated information sharing. Despite the low volume and manual nature of these exchanges, instances have already been uncovered involving fraudulent identities, non-disclosure of criminal histories, illegitimate refugee claims, and misrepresentation. In 2011, the members of the FCC agreed that it would be valuable to expand and automate the manual, low volume, and case-by-case exchanges taking place between each country. With this consensus, the five countries began exploring a more permanent and automated solution for conducting fingerprint checks between participating agencies in each country in a privacy-sensitive manner. To further extend the benefits of immigration information exchanges, Canada and its FCC partners are seeking to increase the capacity of immigration information exchanges to include a greater volume of applicants. For Canada, this solution would enable the populations for which information exchanges provide the greatest value (e.g. inland asylum claimants, overseas refugee resettlement applicants, and higher-risk, visa-required temporary resident applicants) to be screened against the larger pool of information available in FCC immigration data holdings. Persons subject to this enhanced screening and known by immigration authorities in these countries will not be able to withhold information from Canadian officials, thereby improving Canadian immigration and border determinations and establishing and verifying the identity of foreign nationals at the earliest opportunity. Similarly, potential travel may also be facilitated for foreign nationals known to have a history of previous immigration compliance in an FCC country. Objectives The objective of the Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (the Regulations) is to support the Government of Canada’s ability to identify inadmissible individuals at the earliest possible opportunity and, conversely, to facilitate the travel and entry of individuals who can be identified as posing a low risk given their history of compliance in another FCC country. The Regulations support this objective by permitting (though not requiring) the disclosure of immigration-related personal information held by Canada to Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom in an automated way, under a specific authority grounded in Canadian domestic law; and better-informed immigration determinations, by providing Canadian decision-makers with relevant immigration information made available by Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom that would otherwise be unknown. Overall, the Regulations help balance the need to maintain the integrity of Canada’s immigration program and the safety and security of Canadian residents with the privacy interests of individuals subject to automated immigration information sharing. Description The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations are amended to provide the Government of Canada with the authority to disclose limited and prescribed personal information (i.e. fingerprints) to Australia, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom in the form of an automated query for the purpose of assisting in the administration and enforcement of Canada’s immigration and refugee laws. Queries will be initiated on inland asylum claimants, overseas refugee resettlement applicants, and higher-risk, visa-required temporary resident applicants. (see footnote 2) The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations are also amended to provide the Government of Canada with the authority to disclose limited and prescribed immigration-related information in response to an automated query received from Australia, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom for the purpose of assisting in the administration and enforcement of their respective immigration, refugee, and citizenship laws. The Regulations consist of several key elements. Scope and purpose of automated immigration information sharing The Regulations specify the query-based nature of the information exchange and the limited purposes for which information could be disclosed. The Regulations specify that information will be shared on third-country nationals, including asylum claimants and overseas refugee resettlement applicants. The Regulations also specify that only in the case of asylum or resettlement queries from Australia, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom will information on permanent residents of Canada be disclosed on an automated basis. The Regulations also specify that information on Canadian citizens will not be disclosed. Disclosure of limited information The Regulations prescribe that information disclosed to Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom is to be limited so as to minimally impair the privacy rights of third-country nationals and permanent residents under section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which provides for “the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.” To ensure appropriate privacy safeguards, the Regulations limit the categories of information shared to biographic identity information, biometric information (to consist of fingerprints and a digital photograph), and immigration-related data stored in the immigration holdings of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Only information proportionate, necessary and relevant to the administration and enforcement of each country’s immigration, refugee, and citizenship law will be exchanged. Transparency in the information-sharing process The Regulations specify the terms and conditions for the bilateral exchange of information. To further promote transparency in the information-sharing process, IRCC will also ensure bilateral information-sharing arrangements with each FCC partner are made publicly available on its departmental website (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/laws-policy/agree.asp). Appropriate privacy safeguards consistent with domestic legislation The Regulations specify that Canada will take measures to ensure the accuracy of exchanged information and effective processes for the correction of inaccurate information. The Regulations also specify that exchanged information is to be retained and disposed in a manner consistent with domestic legislation. Access to databases or complete records will not be granted. Rather, the country initiating the check will send an anonymized fingerprint-based query that is to be run against the receiving country’s biometric immigration records. Whether or not a fingerprint match is established, the country receiving the query is to automatically purge the fingerprints used in the query. Therefore, fingerprint information will not be shared with, retained by, or used by the other country, except to determine whether a match exists. Upon confirmation of a match, both positive and negative information about the individual could be exchanged, e.g. past visa approvals or refusals. Terminology change The Regulations include a terminology change to the French language version of certain provisions within the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations relating to information sharing between Canada and the United States. In those provisions “divulgation de renseignements” is being replaced with “communication de renseignements” to be consistent with the other provisions relating to the information-sharing process. The Regulations will come into force upon their registration. “One-for-One” Rule The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to the Regulations, as there is no change in administrative costs to business. Small business lens The small business lens does not apply to the Regulations, as there are no costs to small business. Consultation The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) has been engaged in developing Canada’s immigration information-sharing program with FCC partners. While it has acknowledged the importance of improving border security and immigration determinations, the OPC has been clear that any new measures must be implemented with due respect for fundamental freedoms and privacy rights, ensuring that only the minimal amount of data is disclosed that is necessary, relevant and proportionate to meeting the objective of determining admissibility. The OPC has been consulted on the Regulations and automated immigration information sharing as contemplated with Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, and a privacy impact assessment for automated immigration information sharing was submitted prior to the coming into force of the Regulations. Furthermore, IRCC and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) intend to continue to engage with the OPC throughout implementation to benefit from its advice and in order to ensure any privacy risks are identified and appropriately mitigated. The Regulations were prepublished in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on December 10, 2016, followed by a 30-day comment period. No comments were received during the comment period. Rationale The Regulations enable high volume information sharing with Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom without affecting case-by-case information exchanges taking place between Canada and Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Automated exchanges of information will eliminate the labour-intensive process whereby a Canadian officer manually selects cases one by one for an FCC partner to check. Importantly, automating exchanges of immigration information will enable relevant information to be available quickly, i.e. generated within minutes or hours for most cases, ensuring that important information is on hand to support key steps in the decision-making process. Automating these bilateral exchanges will increase the Government of Canada’s ability to access immigration information from trusted partners when determining admissibility and in determining an individual’s eligibility for protection under the United Nations Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. Similarly, FCC partners will have the same ability to ask Canada about an applicant to their country to assist in their respective decision-making processes. Implementation, enforcement and service standards Implementation will entail the development of both an information technology system and operational infrastructure capable of sending and receiving electronic queries, which is currently underway and will be deployed in stages starting in March 2017. This system will enable the sharing of limited immigration information to support the processing of applications for a permanent or temporary resident visa or a work or study permit, to obtain protected person status or another immigration benefit under federal immigration legislation, or to support an investigation into whether a national of a third country is authorized to travel to, enter or remain in Canada. Privacy and data security safeguards that enable focused immigration information sharing (e.g. automated sharing of only the minimum amount of data elements required to support the assessment of an application in a particular immigration business line) will be built into the information technology systems. Training, manuals, and operational bulletins are being developed to ensure that all personnel who handle shared information use it appropriately and in a manner consistent with domestic legislation and the relevant bilateral arrangement. Contact Emmanuelle Deault-Bonin Acting Director Identity Management and Information Sharing Admissibility Branch Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 180 Kent Street Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1 Telephone: 613-437-5894 Fax: 613-957-9187 Email: [email protected] Footnote a S.C. 2008, c. 3, s. 2 Footnote b S.C. 2001, c. 27 Footnote c S.C. 2014, c. 39, s. 313 Footnote d S.C. 2001, c. 27 Footnote 1 SOR/2002-227 Footnote 2 While the Regulations permit queries pertaining to all types of permanent resident applications, biometric information is not currently collected from permanent resident applicants other than overseas refugee resettlement applicants. Therefore, no queries could be sent on permanent resident applicants other than overseas refugee resettlement applicants unless and until regulatory amendments are brought forward to enable such collection.
This Bill does not amend any statutes.
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