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Brown: update on Canadian visa requirements

A team from Canada could assist the Department of Immigration in providing Bermudians who require biometric data to work, visit or study in Canada.

The announcement came today from Walton Brown, the Minister for the Cabinet Office.

Canada unveiled the new requirements last year, meaning that local residents carrying any type of British passport, including British Dependent Territories Citizens, would be required to submit fingerprints and a photograph with their applications after December 31.

The biometric information would have to be renewed once every ten years. The cost to provide the information was CAD$85 for individuals and a maximum of CAD$170 for family applications.

However, Bermuda has no facilities to take biometric information, meaning locals would have to travel to the United States to provide the data.

Mr Brown said that Bermudians applying for Canadian visas faced “hardship, economic and otherwise” by having to go to the US.

He added: “With Bermudian families already sacrificing to meet the high costs of educating their children, an added burden or roadblock is not something that they should have to take on by themselves.”

The requirement affects a variety of travellers, but is mandatory for all foreign students in Canada.

The minister said: “The Bermuda Government has stepped in and is currently in discussions with the Canadian Consulate in Bermuda to address the issue of Bermudians having to travel to the US to collect the biometric data.

“Ultimately we are advocating for a Canadian team to come to Bermuda to collect the biometric data, or exploring the possibility of the Department of Immigration or another entity becoming an authorised Canadian Visa Application Centre or Application Support Centre.

“Our Canadian partners have been receptive and we are hopeful that we will find a good balance. I look forward to updating the public on further developments.”