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Canadian government cancels police clearance certificates as 2024 requirement for study permits, cites unreliability

The Canadian government has stated that police clearance certificates are not required for individuals entering the country as temporary residents, including those on study permits, as they are normally unreliable.

This statement was made by Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marc Miller, during a session of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on Monday.

The minister’s clarification comes amid debates about security checks for temporary residents, including international students, following recent criminal cases involving past visitors.

The Canadian immigration minister indicated that verification is primarily conducted through biometric data, such as fingerprints, which are cross-checked against international law enforcement databases. According to Miller, police certificates from the country of origin are not routinely required for temporary residents.

A police clearance certificate certificate is an official document issued by the Police as a background check on those who are immigrating to another country.

This is done to check whether an applicant has a criminal record and to guaranty the host country that the applicant is not wanted by law in the country they are coming from.

However, police certificates from abroad may be requested on a case-by-case basis if additional scrutiny is deemed necessary.

What he said

In addressing the situation, Marc Miller said,

“I have never said such certificates are required for temporary residents.”

He also said the government does “verification,” which he explained were biometrics, basically fingerprints that 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.”

Curbing international students with criminal records 

The government has been under fire for its security checks on the temporary residents it accepts, including foreign students.

This is especially true since it was revealed that two of the four people detained in relation to the murder of pro-Khalistan activist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, had entered Canada as students.

In Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18 of 2023, Nijjar was assassinated. Four Indian nationals were charged and placed under custody for their possible roles in the crime. It was established that two of them—Karan Brar and Karamdeep Singh—arrived in Canada as students, and it was also rumoured that a third—Amandeep Singh—studied there.

Earlier this month, External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar, had remarked that a “number of people with organized 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 when he said, “We’re not lax. We have a process for screening student visa applicants. If they have a criminal record; they don’t come in.”

What this means for potential students from Nigeria

This new rule will also apply to Nigerian students coming into Canada.

  • According to an education consulting firm in Nigeria, obtaining a police clearance certificate involves using one of these three major methods which are:
  • Either through applying in person at the force CID, Police Criminal Registry, Alagbon, Lagos State, applying from your state through Nigeria Police Force website or applying from outside Nigeria through a third party service
  • However, this directive has now been scrapped as the Canadian government believes it is not reliable and would rather utilize the biometric verification process which its own government conducts.
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