Canada drops police clearance requirement for temporary residents

Toronto: The Canadian government has acknowledged that police clearance certificates are not necessary for those entering the country as temporary residents, including on study permits.

Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marc Miller takes part in a press conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada January 29. (REUTERS)

Responding to repeated questions from Indo-Canadian MP Arpan Khanna during a sitting of the House of Commons Standing Committee Citizenship and Immigration on Monday, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marc Miller said, “I have never said such certificates are required for temporary residents.’

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Miller also said the government does “verification”, which he explained were biometrics, basically fingerprints which were run through partner and police databases. As for the police certificates from the country of origin, Miller said, “We do not, as a routine matter, require them for temporary residents.”

“They may be required if an officer decides to do so as part of a cascading security screening,” he added later.

Miller also dismissed the efficacy of such checks, as he said, “You could imagine how unreliable those certificates would be.”

The government has faced scrutiny over security checks on its intake of temporary residents, which includes international students particularly after it emerged that at least two of the four persons arrested in relation with the killing of pro-Khalistan figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar had come to Canada in that category.

Nijjar was killed on June 18 last year in Surrey, British Columbia, and four Indian nationals have been arrested and charged for their alleged involvement in that murder. Two of them Karan Brar and Karamdeep Singh were confirmed as having arrived in Canada as students, while a third, Amandeep Singh was also said to have studied in the country.

Earlier this month, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had said that a “number of people with organised crime links from Punjab” had been “made welcome in Canada.”

He had added, “We have been telling Canada saying, look these are wanted criminals from India, you have given them visas. But the Canadian government has not done anything.”

However, Miller had rebutted Jaishankar’s statement on May 6, when he said, “We’re not lax. And the Indian foreign minister is entitled to his opinion. I’m going to let him speak his mind. It’s just not accurate.”

He had also stated there was an elaborate process for screening student visa applicants, saying, “You check them. If they have a criminal record; they don’t come in.”

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