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Travellers needing visas to enter Canada to undergo biometric screening

Last Updated Jun 4, 2015 at 9:53 am EST

Images of the iris scan in the Nexus office at Pearson International Airport at Terminal One in Toronto on Sept. 17, 2007. THE GLOBE AND MAIL THE CANADIAN PRESS Peter Power

OTTAWA – Canada is about to add another layer of security for travellers who need visas to enter the country — biometric screening.

The Canadian Press has learned that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to announce the new security measures on Thursday.

Harper will expand on a section of the federal budget that promised legislation to expand the practice.

“By helping to prevent inadmissible individuals from entering the country, expanding biometric screening will help facilitate legitimate travel to Canada while protecting the safety and security of Canadians,” the budget said.

Biometrics can include unique identifiers such as an iris scan or a fingerprint record.

The procedures are already required for travellers from about two dozen countries — including Afghanistan, Syria and Egypt — but they would now apply to those from almost 150 others.

Canada would join more than 70 other countries that use biometric tests to screen travellers, according to the budget.

An internal memo obtained by The Canadian Press last year said the government was building an information technology system that could be used for the systematic exchange of biometric data with Britain, Australia and New Zealand.