Report urges Canadian immigration to setup appeals process for biometric system

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As Canadian immigration begins to implement their biometrics system for visa applicants, an internal report urges the government to create a proper appeals process for visa applicants who are rejected because the biometrics system says that their fingerprints do not match the fingerprints stored on the biometrics system.

Beginning in 2013, certain foreign nationals applying for Canadian visas will be required to give their fingerprints and have their photograph taken as part of the visa application procedure. The prints will be searched against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police database. Once the visa-holder arrives in Canada, immigration officials will use the data to verify that the visa holder is the same person as the applicant.

"In the context of digital scanning of fingerprints, no biometrics system is perfect," said the report, adding that two different fingers can mistakenly be matched, and measurements from the same finger can be rejected. "A documented process is required if there is a dispute about the decision on admissibility when the client's dispute centres on the accuracy of the biometrics fingerprint evaluation."

The report recommended Canadian immigration should "establish and document a process and provide information to clients on complaint procedures and remedies" in the event of disputes about fingerprint accuracy.

The government believes the biometric verification will significantly reduce fraud and strengthen Canadian border security.

"It also means applicants will benefit from a reduced risk that their identity will be fraudulently used by someone else to gain access into Canada," Canadian Immigration said. "Implementing biometrics will bring Canada in line with other countries — such as the United Kingdom and the United States — that already use biometrics for immigration and border security purposes."

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