July 18, 2019

Records Now Kept of Exits from Canada via Canada-US Land Border

Posted by Legal Team - Bellissimo Law Group PC

Last week, Canada and the US began sharing information on the entries and exits of all individuals travelling between the two countries at the land border.[1] Although there were already information-sharing agreements in place between the two governments, this is a significant change which may have consequences for permanent residents (PR), amongst others. Prior to 11 July 2019 the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) kept records of entries but not of a traveller’s exits from Canada.

The “entry/exit initiative” enables CBSA and US Customs and Border Protection to exchange the following:

  • biographic information “such as: first name, middle name(s), last name, date of birth, citizenship or nationality, sex, travel document type, document number, and name of the country that issued the travel document”; and
  • the date, time and location of entry/exit.[2]

The measure was introduced as part of Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Customs Act, which received Royal Assent in December 2018.[3] Having a record of exits in addition to entries that can be retained for 15 years (from the date of collection) will assist immigration authorities who are charged with assessing whether or not a PR of Canada has met the physical presence requirements to maintain their PR status or to become a Canadian citizen.

For those who are unfamiliar with the relevant requirements, a PR must comply with a “residency obligation” in order to maintain their status pursuant to section 28 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. One way of satisfying this obligation is to be physically present in Canada for at least 730 days in every five-year period. A PR who wishes to apply for a grant of citizenship must have “been physically present in Canada for at least 1,095 days during the five years immediately before the date” they submit their application, according to subsection 5(1) of the Citizenship Act.

Temporary residents of Canada who are travelling across the Canada-US land border should always be mindful of the expiry date of their status and PR’s should monitor the number of days spent outside of Canada to avoid negative consequences.

Finally, it is important to note that while the entry/exit initiative is currently only in effect at the Canada-US land border, the exchange of exit information between all airlines and the CBSA is expected to begin in mid-2020.[4]