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A new Canadian and United States information sharing agreement that was recently signed will ensure that anyone who applies for a visa to enter Canada will also be checked against immigration database in the United States to make sure they are not blacklisted in the US first.
Millions of Canadian visa applicants will be affected by this new measure, as about 2.2 million people apply for Canadian visas annually. Checking the identities of visa applicants for Canada against immigration databases in the United States has already started, and the United States will also be checking their own visa applicants against Canadian immigration databases and police databases.
But the information sharing agreement is not without its problems. For example, someone who is on a United States database and is denied a visa does not have an easy way of challenging their visa denial. In addition, many people who are on terrorist watch lists won’t be on immigration lists and violent criminals may only flag in the system if they have already been denied a visa once before.
An applicant who is denied a visa in Canada won’t be told why or whether it was because of an issue with a United States database – and if it is a mistake, it will be difficult for the denied applicant to correct the mistake. There is currently no way for the denied applicant to challenge what is in the United States database about them.
The general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Nathalie Des Rosiers, told the Globe and Mail that Canadians may have trouble bringing people into the country because their visa application is rejected due to information in a United States database that is incorrect.
What do you think? Will this information sharing cause more problems than it solves? Should there exist a way for applicants to know what information is stored about them in a foreign country’s database when they are denied, and a way to appeal?
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