Operational Bulletin 226 - August 25, 2010

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Biometric Information Sharing Under the High Value Data Sharing Protocol

Issue

Sharing of biometric information further to the Five Country Conference (FCC) High Value Data Sharing Protocol.

Background

The Five Country Conference (Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand) meets annually at the Deputy Minister level to discuss immigration matters including irregular migration. In 2006, a Biometrics and Technology Sub-group was struck to encourage biometric information-sharing among partners.

In 2007, under the auspices of the then Four Country Conference, Canada, the US, the UK and Australia committed the FCC to work toward the systematic exchange of biometric data for immigration purposes. As an early step, the FCC partners have launched a biometric information-sharing initiative: the High Value Data Sharing Protocol (the Protocol).

Current Status

Biometric data sharing with Australia, the UK and the US has commenced. New Zealand, which joined the FCC in June 2009, is preparing to participate in the data sharing. Under the Protocol, which is premised on a bilateral exchange dynamic, each FCC partner is to share approximately 3,000 fingerprint records per year for possible matching against the fingerprint holdings of the other countries. For Canada, the records will consist of refugee claimant cases, as well as those involving foreign nationals subject to enforcement measures. With respect to refugee claims, the information received from FCC partners is expected to help corroborate refugee claimant narratives; as well as serve as a basis for Ministerial intervention and eligibility redetermination. It may also assist the CBSA in closure of outstanding immigration warrants, and in the removal process.

In order to ensure a representative sample, refugee claimant cases are being randomly selected based on time periods. It is expected that the information exchanged under the Protocol will be available to decision makers at the IRB to assist in determining individual refugee claims. The Protocol does not affect CIC’s existing bilateral info-sharing arrangement with the United States. As such, individuals identified as designated officials under the current info-sharing Statement of Mutual Understanding may continue to be approached with respect to case-by-case-biographic checks. For more information, please refer to Information Sharing manuals IN 1 and 2.

Under the Protocol, information is exchanged in stages. CIC NHQ’s Biometrics Project Office is coordinating the initial exchange of fingerprint records. When a fingerprint match is confirmed, limited biographic information is then shared. Further information will be needed from the client’s paper case file, including but not limited to photographs and passport pages. This biographic info-sharing is being coordinated through central NHQ units of CIC and the CBSA.

When a client’s file is located at a CIC inland office, the central unit will contact that office with the data request. When the office provides the requested data, the NHQ unit will forward it to the FCC partner country. These units may receive requests from FCC partners for additional data. In these cases, based on the type of request, the CIC inland office may be contacted a second time by one of the central units to provide further information from the client’s case file. Such subsequent requests are not expected to be a routine occurrence.

It should be noted that while the CIC inland office will provide information to the NHQ unit, they will also receive information via the NHQ unit from the FCC partner for inclusion on the case file. CIC inland offices will not need to do analysis, unless they wish, on the information received for retention on the case file. This will have been done by the NHQ unit before the information is sent to the CIC inland office.

Process

1.0 Requests to CIC Inland Offices for Case File Information

Canada has committed to providing requested information to FCC partners within specific time frames. In order to meet these commitments, inland offices are asked to respond to NHQ requests within 3 business days, to the extent possible.

Information requested from the client’s file may include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • A scanned copy of the fingerprint pages;
  • A scanned copy of the passports / ID docs – bio page from the passport plus any pages with information (i.e. pages with entry / exit stamps and visas);
  • A scanned copy of each photo on file – only one copy of each different photo.

NOTE: Wherever possible, please scan only ONE item per page (i.e. only one photo and/or ID document per scan).

Requests to CIC inland offices will use the following template:

Note:

SC = Search Code
RC = Refugee Claim
RD = Re-documentation
AB = Absconder
FC = Foreign Criminal
OT = Other


From: CBSA-ASFC_BTWG-GTBT

Sent: Date

To: Regional Contact

Subject: FCC Protocol – Request for Data from name of local office, date – FOSS #

Request Made To: Name of Region

Turnaround Time (to the extent possible): 3 days

FCC Partner: UK, US or AUSCRC/RD/AB/FC/OT

FOSS ID: 12345678

Data Required:

  • Scanned copy of fingerprint pages
  • Scanned copy of passports (bio page, entry/exit stamps) and ID docs
  • Scanned copy of each different photo on file
  • Other (specify):

2.0 CIC Inland Offices Responses

Responses should be returned via email to the requester (CIC NHQ or CBSA NHQ) and should contain scanned data pertaining to only one client. Due to the memory size limitations of emails, it may be necessary to send more than one email per client.

NOTE: In the event that full case information is requested or scanned images are too numerous, please contact the requester to arrange for alternate means of delivery.

The subject line for the response email from the CIC Inland Office to the requester should read as follows:

Subject: 12345678, Ottawa, 1 of 3, where:

  • 12345678 = FOSS ID
  • Ottawa = CIC Inland Office
  • 1 of 3 = email sequence number

Naming and Scanning of Client File Images:

The image file names should include the FOSS ID and Image Number. For example, 12345678_3.JPEG (or PDF), where,

  • 12345678 = FOSS ID
  • 3 = Third image associated with the client.
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