June 4, 2014 – The government of Canada will start gathering biometric information from all foreign travellers entering on a visa, including the temporary resident (visitor) visa. This requirement will impact organizations who present foreign artists.
Foreign travellers from a visa-required country will have to comply with fingerprint and digital photo collection at the time of applying for their visa and upon landing at a major Canadian airport. They will also be charged for the cost of this biometric data gathering: a Globe and Mail article reported that the current fee is $85 per person or $170 per family.
Biometric data collection isn't entirely new. Since December 2013, Ottawa starting collecting fingerprints and photographs from travellers hailing from 29 countries, including Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan. The new measure will however expand the number of targeted countries to about 150 visa-required countries. These include most American countries (except the U.S. and Chile), all African countries, China, Russia and most Asian countries.
There are currently 64 visa-exempt countries, including United States, most European Union countries, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and a host of small countries and principalities. These visa-exempt countries will not be affected by this expanded requirement.
The expanded biometrics collection represents yet another barrier to tourists and to foreign artists touring in Canada. Along with the Electronic Travel Authorization (a $7 service charge, expected by 2016), a foreign artist from non-exempt country will soon have to pay $92 before they can board a plane to Canada. This is in addition to the administrative burden related to tax withholding and, in the case of producing companies, all fees required for temporary foreign workers.
Forget that 8-member band from Romania you wanted to present at your festival: the cost of bringing them in just increased by $736.
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