U.S.-Canada Visa and Immigration Information-Sharing Agreement

U.S. and Canadian government officials signed a U.S.-Canada Visa and Immigration Information-Sharing Agreement on December 13, 2012. This agreement will enable Canada and the U.S. to share information about third country nationals who apply for a visa or permit to travel to either country.

The agreement authorizes U.S. and Canadian border officers to send automated requests for data to each other so that biographic information may be shared beginning in 2013, and biometric information in 2014. For example, when a third country national applies to the U.S. for a visa or claims asylum, U.S. immigration officials can send a request for information to Canadian officials. The request would contain limited information on the applicant, such as his/her name and date of birth (biographic sharing) or an anonymous fingerprint (biometric sharing). If the identity matches that of a previous immigration application in Canada, further information may be shared with U.S. officials, such as whether that person has been previously refused a visa or removed from Canada. The same process will apply in reverse when a third country national applies to Canada for a visa or claims asylum.

Any information shared on travelers and asylum seekers will be handled responsibly and, as with other information sharing agreements, exchanged in accordance with relevant U.S. and Canadian laws. Under the agreement, information will NOT be shared regarding U.S. or Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Besides facilitating legitimate travel and business, the increased information sharing will better assist both countries in identifying third-party nationals who may pose a risk before reaching our borders. This will contribute to the safety and security of Americans and Canadians alike.

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