Friday, August 28, 2009


The Wall Street Journal reports today that DHS will continue to search some laptops at border entry points in the US, bu that the policy will be made more transparent. Laptop searches have been the source of much discussion amongst legal scholars recently as a result of several court decisions allowing the searches. For those interested, see my articles in the Publications section of my website

Laptop Searches to Continue, Though Officials Pledge More Transparency -

AUGUST 27, 2009, 6:33 P.M. ET.

Laptop Searches to Continue, Though Officials Pledge More Transparency


WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration said Thursday it would continue peering into the files of laptop computers and other electronic devices carried by travelers arriving in the U.S., including U.S. citizens. But officials pledged to add more transparency and other reforms to the program, which has been criticized by privacy advocates.

At issue is a policy allowing border agents to seize and search electronic devices of travelers arriving in the U.S. without the permission of the traveler or probable cause. A small fraction of the devices carried by international travelers are searched, but civil liberties advocates complained about the intrusiveness and a lack of standards.

In response, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano pledged to review the program earlier this year. She announced new checks Thursday, but the underlying guidelines for when searches can be conducted remain largely unchanged. She cited concerns about terrorism and child pornography.

"Keeping Americans safe in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully screen materials entering the United States," Ms. Napolitano said. "The new directives announced today strike the balance between respecting the civil liberties and privacy of all travelers while ensuring DHS can take the lawful actions necessary to secure our borders."

Among other changes, Ms. Napolitano promised to more closely track searches and seizures, to conduct annual audits and to return laptops to travelers faster. Border agents now will be limited to holding laptops for five days, while Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who are charged with investigating potential crimes, will have 30 days to hold devices, barring extenuating circumstances, officials said.

Sen. Russell Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat who had been sharply critical of the searches, said the changes were an improvement. But he also left open the possibility that he might push legislation to limit the searches.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a federal lawsuit this week to obtain documents about the program, said the changes didn't go far enough. "We are still talking about the searches of everyone's laptops without standards," said Chris Calabrese, counsel for the ACLU's technology and liberty project.

Officials said Thursday that border agents searched about 1,000 laptops from the more than 221 million travelers they encountered from Oct. 1, 2008, until about two weeks ago. Of those, officials said, only 46 were searched in-depth.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Here is a very unusual case reported by the National Post. Obviously, the legislation requires amendment to deal with cases such as this in a clear fashion.

Indian spy faces deportation reprieve

Indian spy faces deportation reprieve
Stewart Bell, National Post

Canada has been trying to deport an Indian man for espionage since he arrived at Vancouver International Airport last December under a false identity, according to a newly unsealed document.

The man has admitted to Canadian officials that, in 2006 and 2007, he took part in a spy operation involving a militant group and a mystery man offering money for sensitive information about Pakistan.

But the effort to deport him has so far failed because Canadian immigration law only permits the government to deport foreigners who have spied against governments or institutions considered democratic.

Although the man has acknowledged he was a middleman in the espionage scheme, the Immigration and Refugee Board recently threw out the government's case on the grounds that the country he had spied on, Pakistan, was not a democracy at the time.

A brief summary of the decision was posted on the IRB's website this month. The National Post has since obtained a full copy of the 14-page ruling, but the IRB first removed the man's name from the document.

The identity of the figure who paid for the information was also removed from the document. During its investigation, the Canada Border Services Agency interviewed an associate of the man who had worked for the CIA, but there is no indication the agency was involved in the scheme.

The unusual case has highlighted a feature of Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which says that non-Canadians can be declared inadmissible to Canada for espionage only if they spied on "a democratic government, institution or process as they are understood in Canada."

Because of that, at closed hearings before the IRB in Vancouver earlier this year, representatives of the Minister of Public Safety and the Indian man's lawyer, Peter Edelmann, were forced to argue over whether Pakistan was a democracy.

The IRB found it wasn't.

"After considering all of the evidence on that point, I conclude that Pakistan was not a democracy as the term is understood in Canada from 1999 when President Musharraf seized power in a coup until February 18, 2008 when free elections were finally held and he lost power," IRB Member Michael McPhalen wrote.

"The evidence shows that from 1999 to the end of 2007, whenever his hold on power was threatened, President Musharraf took actions such as declaring a state of emergency, amending or suspending the constitution or taking power away from the judiciary. This is not how a democracy operates."

Martin Rudner, a professor at Carleton University, said the law could cause complications for Canadian diplomacy because Ottawa's allies are not always democracies.

"Canada could find itself giving sanctuary to espionage agents who operate against friendly countries with shared interests in volatile and important regions of the world, like the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, or Latin America," he said.

"In such circumstances Canadian immigration and refugees practices could serve in effect to undermine Canadian foreign policy goals in vital areas of international affairs."

A related section of the law says that non-Canadians are also inadmissible for "engaging in terrorism" but in that case it does not specify that the terrorists' targets must be democratic governments or institutions.

The man Canada accuses of espionage grew up in the Indian-administered section of Kashmir, a mountain kingdom claimed by both India and Pakistan. There has been longstanding violence in the region between Indian forces and Islamist militant groups backed by Pakistan.

He said he started spying after he was approached by a man who wanted a list of illicit weapons factories in Pakistan, the sources of their raw materials and a copy of the National Database and Registration Authority, which issues national identity cards to Pakistanis.

He approached a friend, a member of the militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, and paid him 40,000 rupees (about $500 Canadian) for the information about weapons factories, which he passed on to the mystery man. He was not able to get a copy of the database.

During the IRB hearings, he said he knew militants who crossed from India to Pakistan but said he opposes violence and took part in the espionage scheme to obtain information that would be used against militant groups, as well as to make money.

Canadian officials told the IRB the man was a danger to Canada because he "admitted that when he was younger he dreamed of being a terrorist," "he is friends with or associated with terrorists and freedom fighters," and "has an interest in guns and violence and has had weapons training."

In addition, the person whose passport he used to come to Canada "has been photographed holding an assault rifle and making a gang sign," the government said, but the man argued he could offer innocent explanations.

He said he underwent weapons training during high school and was a supporter of Kashmiri militant groups in his youth.

He said while Indian authorities suspected he was a terrorist, and arrested and tortured him, he was released each time, once after his father paid a bribe, and had never been a member of a militant group.

He said he distanced himself from militants after becoming disillusioned with Muslim leaders whom he said used religion to recruit youths to fight the Indian forces.

The IRB agreed he was not a security threat.

"The ability to use a weapon only tends to establish that a person is a danger to the security of Canada if it is combined with other factors such as the inclination to use a weapon for terrorist purposes, associating with extremists and identifying with their goals or a previous history of violence," Mr. McPhalen wrote. "None of those factors are present here."

Neither the CBSA nor the Pakistani High Commission in Ottawa responded to questions yesterday, but Mr. Edelmann said the law only applies to those who commit espionage against democracies.

In 2007, the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper was "one of the more outspoken voices calling for Pakistan to be suspended from the Commonwealth due to the lack of democracy under Musharraf's regime," he said.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Canada, U.K. join ID fraud fight, U.S. to follow soon -

Canada, U.K. join ID fraud fight, U.S. to follow soon

Published: Aug. 24, 2009 at 6:23 PM

Canada, Australia and Britain have teamed up to share biometric and fingerprint information about suspected criminals and will soon be joined by the United States and New Zealand.

The security information exchange alliance, called the Five Country Conference, builds on collaborative networks already in place within the Western coalitions fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq and united in the global war on terror.

The alliances have brought together security industries of varying sizes and scope, from organizations that work within the frontiers of each of the member countries to multinational entities that combine conventional intelligence gathering, vast information databases and new technologies.

Security sources told United Press International the Five-Country Conference had begun operations as a multifaceted global network of government agencies, with a wide remit that extends from detecting identity fraud in suspected terrorism cases to deception in attempted immigration or fraudulent asylum claims.

A key aim of the collaborative effort is to gather and share biometric data and fingerprints of foreign individuals suspected of involvement in cross-border crime, immigration rackets or just identity fraud by individuals attempting to enter any of the FCC countries.

Immigration authorities in FCC countries have been faced with cases where individuals attempted, sometimes successfully, identity fraud using false passports.

Comprehensive information-sharing information arrangements already exist within the European Union.

Canadian sources said the sharing of fingerprint information on foreign criminals and asylum seekers with Britain and Australia, and eventually with the United States and New Zealand, would make it easier to detect potential migrants who try to hide their past from authorities.

"These checks are complementary to the ones we already undertake with our European partners and trials of the data-sharing agreement have already reaped results, with individuals' identities being revealed through the exchange and checking of fingerprints," said U.K. Border Agency Deputy Chief Executive Jonathan Sedgwick.

In view of the volume of information likely to be exchanged as the deal goes through and gains momentum, authorities have also begun implementing a complex encryption system.

Sedgwick said in comments to the British media, "We already have one of the toughest borders in the world and we are determined to ensure it stays that way.

"We are continuing to expand our watch-lists, work more closely with foreign governments to share information, and speed up the re-documentation of those being removed," he said.

He hoped the information exchange would help "identify and remove individuals whose identities were previously unknown but also improve public safety through better detection of lawbreakers and those coming to the U.K. for no good."

The Canadian Department of Justice says that Canadian and U.S. law enforcement agencies have seen a growing trend in both countries towards greater use of identity theft as a means of furthering or facilitating other types of crime, from fraud to organized criminal activity to terrorism.

"Instead of one person committing an offense, there may be a complex operation involving a number of different people. No one person may be individually responsible for committing an offense, but each may contribute a small part to the larger criminal operation. New legislation on identity theft will give police and prosecutors additional tools to address such complex criminal activities," the department says.

Organized immigration and deliberate abuse of the right to asylum are among criminal activities that FCC's information-sharing program will aim to detect and stamp out, officials said.

Each country will have the same ability to check fingerprints and for the first phase of the agreement this year, each country will be able to share 3,000 sets of fingerprints with partner countries. The number will rise as the deal rolls out, officials said.

The collaboration will make it easier to detect people with previous criminal records in other countries and establish previously unknown identities.

In one case cited by the British Home Office, an individual claiming asylum in the United Kingdom as a Somali was found to have previously been fingerprinted on arrival in the United States while traveling on an Australian passport.

Australia subsequently confirmed that the man was an Australian wanted for rape. He was deported from the United Kingdom to Australia, where he faced court proceedings and is now serving a jail sentence.

Concern over identity fraud has spawned a growth in security industries serving not only the governments but also the corporate sector. Increased sales in the sector have also funded research into new devices and methods for beating identity fraud.


Citizenship and Immigration Canada has released the following announcement today:

Permanent Resident Card Has New Look, Enhanced Security Features | SYS-CON UK

Permanent Resident Card Has New Look, Enhanced Security Features

OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 08/24/09 -- Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced the implementation of the redesigned permanent resident card, which will be in circulation beginning today.

"Thanks to state-of-the-art security features, this redesigned permanent resident card will help prevent the fraudulent use of Canada's immigration documents and protect the integrity of our immigration system," said Minister Kenney. "The new card contains security features that comply with international standards for travel documents. Technology is continuously evolving and it is important that our standards keep up."

The new card contains micro-lettering and fine line patterns that are resistant to copying, similar to banknotes. Also, the card holder's photograph and personal details are recorded on a bar code in an encrypted format that may only be read by authorized officials.

New permanent residents will automatically receive the new card as part of the immigration process. Current permanent residents will receive a new card only when their existing card expires. In the meantime, their existing card is still valid.

As always, permanent residents should check the expiry date of their existing card and apply for a new card, if necessary, well in advance of international travel. This wallet-sized plastic card is required for all permanent residents of Canada seeking to re-enter Canada on a commercial carrier (airplane, boat, train or bus).

Saturday, August 22, 2009


This is long overdue. Identity theft is the fastest growing international crime. Also, individuals with criminal histories must be readily identified. The technology now exists to protect society, too bad that the criminals always seem to be a step ahead of legitimate law enforcement.

Canada plans to share fingerprint database with U.K., Australia

Canada plans to share fingerprint database with U.K., Australia

By Mike Blanchfield, Canwest News ServiceAugust 21, 2009

A new agreement between Canada, Britain and Australia allows to check each other's fingerprint databases to tackle immigration fraud, but doesn't give them unfettered access.

OTTAWA — Calling asylum seekers a "vulnerable group," Canada's privacy commissioner expressed concern Friday about a new government plan to share fingerprint information with Britain and Australia to combat immigration fraud.

The three-country agreement was announced Friday with little fanfare, with Canada and the two countries providing assurances that no one's privacy would be violated and that no database for the prints would be created.

A lawyers' group in Australia also raised privacy concerns about the plan, which the United States and New Zealand were expected to join later on.

The offices of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan made the announcement Friday along with their counterparts in London and Canberra, calling it a "landmark initiative" that would "improve our ability to identify foreign nationals who are seeking to enter Canada and who are trying to hide their past from authorities."

The new agreement allows countries to check each other's fingerprint databases but doesn't give them unfettered access.

The measure was touted as a way to better detect bogus immigration and refugee claimants. To allay privacy concerns, the countries said that no central database of fingerprints would be created and all inquiries would be done anonymously.

If a set of fingerprints did not produce a match, they would be destroyed.

This information sharing is part of a broader government initiative to introduce biometrics into Canada's immigration and refugee screening system.

The Immigration department, in Friday's news release, also said that it had done a privacy impact assessment.

But the spokeswoman for Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart told Canwest News Service on Friday that it asked Immigration on July 20 to give more details about that assessment.

Though Immigration had "demonstrated its legislative authority" to go ahead with the plan, privacy commissioner spokeswoman Anne-Marie Hayden said, "we nevertheless expressed some concerns, we had some questions, and made a number of recommendations."

This included asking Immigration to explicitly explain its rationale or need for the "high-value data-sharing."

In an e-mail, Hayden said: "Highly sensitive information such as fingerprints should be safeguarded with a correspondingly high level of security safeguards. Though threat and risk assessments (TRA) were completed, we were not provided with any details on the assessments, to demonstrate that business and IT controls are adequate, and were not informed whether action has been taken to address risks identified in the TRA — so we asked for more information on this front."

The privacy commissioner also asked for a further explanation of how the government plans to use biometric information in the future and what weight it plans to attach to the data when making an assessment of a particular application, said Hayden.

"We very much look forward to receiving further clarity and information from CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) to ensure that this initiative is respectful of the privacy rights of what may be considered quite a vulnerable group," wrote Hayden.

"We understand this is just one of several biometrics initiatives being considered by the CIC and we've made CIC aware of our concerns with respect to what seems to be a general trend toward an increased collection of biometric information — so we will definitely be monitoring these issues closely and look forward to being kept informed by the department(s) involved."

The president of the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper that the new agreement was disquieting.

"I'd really like to see the justification for this and see it implemented in a culturally sensitive manner," the group's president, Susan Harris-Rimmer, told the newspaper.

Alykhan Velshi, the spokesman for Canada's immigration minister, said all countries involved had implemented "rigorous privacy protocols" to address such concerns.

"But ultimately you can't allow hypothetical concerns about this to get in the way of tangible concrete benefits for the security and safety of Canadians," Velshi told Canwest News Service.

In a 2007 trial, Canada shared the fingerprints of 343 refugee claimants with the United States and found matches in 124 cases, or 36 per cent. Of those, five per cent had a criminal history in the U.S. while 32 per cent had been ordered removed from the U.S., said Velshi.

In a similar 2008 trial with Britain, Canada checked 2,000 refugee claimants' fingerprints and got 72 matches, or four per cent, he said.

Velshi also gave the anecdotal example of a Somali who claimed asylum in Britain. He had been fingerprinted in the U.S. while travelling on Australian identification. His fingerprints established that he was wanted for rape in Australia, where he was subsequently convicted and is in prison.

"It's a personal priority of Minister Kenney to focus on the security elements in immigration programs."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Crackdown on visa vultures | The Australian

This is a very interesting article appeared in The Australian. The Canada Experience Class recently instituted here suffers from many of the same shortcomings.

Crackdown on visa vultures

Andrew Trounson and Bernard Lane
August 19, 2009
Article from: The Australian

UNIVERSITIES are pushing for a crackdown in vocational training to root out the visa-driven element of the international student market, which they argue is causing collateral damage to the reputation of the sector.

Universities Australia chief executive Glenn Withers said there was concern that pathways to permanent residency were overwhelming education objectives in areas such as "shorter courses in the vocational end".

UA is calling for immigration criteria to focus more on advanced skills and educational quality. "Such a focus is also needed for the pathways to provide long-term national benefits and to counter any opportunistic education enrolments in some tertiary areas," Dr Withers said.

In its submission to the senate inquiry into international student welfare, UA blamed the rorts on students seeking the quickest and cheapest route to permanent residency: "Regrettably the cheap and dirty route to residency has been encouraged and promoted by some offshore education agents and institutions."

The federal government had inexplicably failed to follow through with a previous plan to regulate offshore agents, according to a migration agent who declined to be named.

In 2006 parliamentary secretary Bruce Billson announced the reform, which was to empower the immigration department to refuse to deal with visa applications from agents unregistered with Australian authorities, whether or not they were Australian nationals.

However, the scheme was not to include temporary student visas.

Last week a spokesman for the department said any attempt to regulate offshore agents faced "distinct challenges" but a voluntary code of conduct was under consideration.

"There's a voluntary code of conduct now for education agents, and it hasn't stopped unscrupulous behaviour," said Maurene Horder, chief executive of agent body, the Migration Institute of Australia. Ms Horder said there was no reason why Australia could not follow the example of Canada: "They do not allow unregistered agents to lodge applications for a third party."

In its submission to the Senate inquiry, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training urged the government to move away from requiring vocational students to complete 900 hours of work experience as a pathway to permanent residency. This was open to abuse and easily falsified, ACPET said.

Instead, the council suggested expanded use of the temporary graduate 485 visa under which students prove 12 months of work experience by furnishing payslips and other tangible evidence.

Many submissions to the inquiry called for the government to increase the $12,000 a year in income a student must show, arguing too many arrived with insufficient funds and had to workbeyond the maximum 20hours a week.

The amount is arbitrary and has not changed since 2001 but many students mistakenly take itas an accurate indicator of livingcosts.

"Without proper financial support arrangements, students may need to undertake greater paid work than is compatible with effective studies, and may be forced to live in sub-standard accommodation often far away from their tertiary provider," Dr Withers told the HES.

The immigration department had established a "high level taskforce" to ensure the integrity of student visa programs, a spokesman said. This included a temporary increase in the number of applicants being interviewed.

In her Senate submission Indian-based education agent Gail Baker called for all applicants to be interviewed in line with practices in Canada and New Zealand. Amid concerns that students are falsifying language tests, she criticised the High Commission in India for giving prospective students the option ofbeing interviewed in Hindi rather than English when the agency had to resolve queries.

Ms Baker also argued the department's tightening of finance criteria for Indian students was misguided as it encouraged students to seek out cheaper and easier diploma courses rather than university degrees. Indian students are now required to prove evidence of finances for three years rather than two as previously.

She said that reducing these financial demands, as well as interviewing all applicants, "would mean that students with exceptionally low levels of English wouldn't apply and we could again attract students to bachelor degree courses, which means that genuine students would apply, and not those simply looking for the quickest route to working inAustralia or permanent residence."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


This is quite a worrisome trend. Somehow, it seems that some unscrupulous individuals could be counselling parents to do this. These children become automatically a public charge. Who is behind this new trend?

London Free Press - Canada & World- Lone kids seek entry at border

Monday, August 17, 2009


See this story from the Vancouver Sun. Changes to the refugee determination system are long overdue, by decades. However, this politically explosive issue promises to be a rallying cry for those with a vested interest in the status quo, even though recent polls show that the vast majority of Canadians want reform and a system that is harder to game. I find it rather amusing that opponents of reform are now in favour of speedier deportations, because when that happens, they are the first to make everything possible to stop them. One thing is certain: our system is a joke and the laughing stock of all the human traffickers of the world who find it easy to "dump" people into the refugee system because it takes years to deal with claims. Given the opposition to reform and the fact that there is now a minority government, I doubt that reform will be meaningful. Every time they "reform " the refugee system, there are so many exceptions and loopholes that it just ends up creating another layer of ineffective bureaucracy. Perhaps the time has come for the entire world community to reconsider the 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, as an outdated document rooted in the post-was era and out of sync with the 21st century.

Ottawa readies fast-tracking of refugee claims from 'safe' nations

By Norma Greenaway, Canwest News ServiceAugust 16, 2009

OTTAWA — The Harper government is readying for Parliament a package of reforms that for the first time could have Canada fast-tracking refugee claimants from countries where citizens are generally thought to be safe from persecution.

Though the proposal has yet to get the final nod from cabinet, Martin Collacott, a former Canadian diplomat who specializes in immigration issues, says such a move is long overdue.

"We are the only country in the world that will consider a (claim) from someone coming from the United States, from the Philippines, from Thailand, from South Korea," said Collacott, a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute.

The proposal envisions senior immigration officers hearing the refugee claimants from safe countries more quickly, thereby easing the load on the Immigration and Refugee Board. There would still be an appeal option, but it would be more streamlined than at present and would not necessarily involve another hearing.

As it stands now, it takes an average of 17 months before a claim is heard by the Immigration and Refugee Board. Once the board makes a decision, claimants can launch appeals that can last for years before the claimant is finally deported.

"Essentially, an unsuccessful claimant who is determined to game the system can stay in Canada for several years with a work permit and/or welfare benefits, and this fundamentally undermines the fairness of our immigration system," Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said.

Friday, August 14, 2009


This is an inter sting article from The Wall Street Journal on the impact of the new requirement for travellers to have a passport to enter the United States.

At Canada Border, Businesses Take a Hit -

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


The Globe and Mail published an interesting opinion in today's Editorial. However, the problems in Canada's refugee determination system are much more serious: refugee claims have become an alternative migration stream for many of those who want quick access to government benefits, health care, work permits, and have few skills to integrate into the economy. Of course, many bogus claims are "promoted" by unscrupulous individuals who counsel people to make false claims just to buy time and defeat the system. Unless would be refugees get the message that protection is not an automatic entitlement and that they can not avoid enforcement by simply hiding after they exhaust their legal recourse, noting will change.

Refugee policy begins at home - The Globe and Mail

Friday, August 7, 2009


This is quite interesting, because of the implications for sports and immigration: it is undeniable that immigrants from countries who have no affinity to hockey are far less inclined to send their children to hockey practice, or to attend games. In fact, there is a sense of crisis amongst hockey organizations. In my capacity of Chair of the Ontario Bar Association Citizenship and Immigration Section, we were requested by a prominent hockey organization to come up with ideas as to how to interest immigrants in hockey.

Hockey losing its grip among Canadian teens

Thursday, August 6, 2009


The Government has implemented a new transit without visa program , primarily for those changing flights to and from the US. Here is the press release:

News Release

New program to facilitate travel through Canada and encourage business at Canadian airports

Vancouver, July 30, 2009 — The Government of Canada is making it easier for international travellers on their way to and from the United States to pass through Canadian airports. Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney, Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan, and International Trade and the Asia-Pacific Gateway Minister Stockwell Day announced the news today.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of travellers pass through Canadian airports on their way to the United States. The new program will allow certain international travellers en route to and from the U.S. with valid U.S. visas to transit through Canadian airports without a Canadian transit visa.

Intended to achieve a balance between ensuring security and facilitating the movement of genuine travellers, the Transit Without Visa program is being implemented in Vancouver following a successful pilot project undertaken at the Vancouver International Airport. Other major Canadian airports will now be able to apply for similar status.

“Removing the requirement for a Canadian transit visa will make Canadian airports more attractive for international travellers going to and from the United States,” said Minister Kenney. “This will help airports expand their business, which will in turn have a positive impact on the local economy.”

“This program creates an opportunity to enhance travel to North America through Canada, while protecting our security interests,” said Minister Van Loan.

“We are embarked on a robust trade agenda to open doors for Canadian business in markets around the world,” said Minister Day. “We are taking action here today to facilitate the flow of people and goods over the border so they can seek opportunities abroad and create jobs at home.”

“The Transit Without Visa program is a key initiative for facilitating travel between North America and Asia via the YVR gateway,” said Larry Berg, President and CEO, Vancouver Airport Authority. “It allows us to capitalize on our geographical advantage as the major West Coast airport closest to Asia, and enables our airlines to transit passengers between Asia and North America seamlessly.”

At this time, the program only applies to nationals of the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan who hold valid U.S. visas and who are travelling through the Vancouver International Airport to and from the United States on a participating airline. Currently, the following airlines are eligible to participate in the program: Philippine Airlines, China Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways.

As the Government looks to further expand the Transit Without Visa program, a full assessment of each new request will be conducted before approving any additional airports, airlines or foreign nationals into the program.

As the program expands to include more Canadian airports and participating airlines, so too will the economic benefits to Canada, such as more revenue from airport fees. The increased flow of international travellers transiting to and from the U.S. through Canadian airports will bring more revenue to Canada’s economy, particularly through money spent by passengers on airport retail.

In the meantime, in recognition of the importance of travel from China, a separate China Transit Trial has been put in place. This trial will allow Chinese nationals holding valid U.S. visas to travel to and from the U.S. through the Vancouver International Airport without obtaining a Canadian transit visa. To qualify, they must travel on one of the pre-authorized air carriers in the Transit Without Visa program and fly on direct, non-stop flights to the Vancouver International Airport, originating from Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Manila and Taipei. The trial will be in place for one year, after which an evaluation will be undertaken.

For more information, visit the websites of Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency.