High Risk Area sign by http://www.flickr.com/photos/howardlake/

High Risk Area by Howard Lake / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Citizenship and Immigration Canada's (CIC) standards for letting people into Canada are constantly changing. CIC has recently moved forward with a concept of "high risk" nationals, from certain countries, who will face greater scrutiny. This is affecting both visitors to Canada and applicants for Canadian immigration.

 

How Does CIC's List of "High Risk" Countries Affect Visitors to Canada?

As of Autumn 2013, Canada has introduced mandatory fingerprinting for certain visitors to Canada in order to bring its policies into line with US VISIT, a biometric collection program which applies to the majority of visitors to the US, set up after 9/11. Given that Canada is supposed to bring its own policies into line with the United States' as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, it is likely that this list will expand. But at the moment, it includes only the below countries:

Afghanistan Colombia Iraq Nigeria Sudan
Albania Congo, DR Jamaica Pakistan South Sudan
Algeria Egypt Jordan Palestine Syria
Bangladesh Eritrea Laos Saudi Arabia Tunisia
Burma (Myanmar) Haiti Lebanon Somalia Vietnam
Cambodia Iran Libya Sri Lanka Yemen

Visitors from these countries will be fingerprinted, regardless of whether you received a visitor visa, a study permit or a work permit.

Because of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, we can expect that this list will get longer in the coming years, so be prepared.
 

How Does CIC's List of "High Risk" Countries Affect Canadian Permanent Residents?

If you are from any of the countries listed above, or any other country CIC considers "high risk", and you are a Canadian permanent resident, you can assume that you are more likely to receive the residence questionnaire next time you are applying for a PR Card. Just because you are from a "high risk" country, this does not mean that you will automatically receive the residence questionnaire, but with this and other factors, the odds are greatly increased.

You are also even more likely to the get the residence questionnaire when or if you apply for Canadian citizenship. The Canadian citizenship application residence questionnaire is even more frequently sent out and being from one of these "high risk" countries, means that you will likely get a questionnaire.

We understand that it's hard to not to worry about receiving a questionnaire, especially for your PR Card, when it is not optional. But don't worry: As long as you have complied with the rules governing your permanent residence status, you are in no danger. Think of the residence questionnaire as merely an extraordinarily stressful extra step.

 

How Do I Know If My Country is on CIC's List of "High Risk" Countries?

The easiest way of telling, is by checking which countries' citizens have to provide fingerprints to CIC. But that isn't a complete list. Immigroup has learned of some of the criteria CIC uses to judge a country "high risk" through an audit of a visa office, made public by CIC.

Here are some ways CIC looks at countries and classifies nationals of those countries as "high risk":

  • Socioeconomic conditions:
    • political instability,
    • poverty,
    • corruption,
    • ineffectiveness of the legal system;
  • Past immigration issues:
    • rate of asylum claims,
    • visitor visa application refusal rates,
    • immigration violation rates;
  • Travel document integrity:
    • security of travel documents,
    • issuance process for travel documents;
  • Safety and security issues:
    • extent of criminality,
    • presence of organized crime,
    • national security concerns;
  • Border management:
    • ineffective border controls,
    • human smuggling problems,
    • human trafficking concerns;
    • Human rights issues:
    • the lack of protection of fundamental freedoms;
  • Bilateral considerations:
    • non-cooperation on migration issues,
    • lack of bilateral trade and investment,
    • as well as possible foreign policy conflicts.

That's a long list of factors that potentially covers more than half the countries in the world. And unfortunately that's as specific as the public information on the subject gets.


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