Everything you need to know about Canada’s Biometrics Expansion


Since 2018, if you’re applying for a visitor visa, study permit, work permit or permanent residency, you will need to provide your fingerprints and photographs.

If you plan to travel repeatedly to Canada as a visitor, international student or foreign worker, you will only need to provide your biometrics once every ten years.

Canada continues implementation of biometrics

Canada is currently implementing its biometrics collection program in order to protect the integrity of the country’s immigration system, helping protect the safety and security of Canadians and at the same time making it easier to verify visitors’ identities to Canada.

Effective December 31, 2018, nationals from countries in Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas (including the Philippines) must submit fingerprints and photos when applying for visitor visas, study permits, work permits or immigrant visas.

The new biometrics rules were earlier rolled out in Europe, the Middle East and Africa last July 31, 2018.

The biometrics program was first established in 2013, when nationals from 29 countries and 1 territory were asked to submit biometrics as part of their immigration applications.

Canada has been taking steps to further improve the collection of biometrics in order to make it convenient for applicants.

Applicants can submit biometrics at any of Canada’s Visa Application Centres VAC, including in countries where nationals are legally allowed to travel.

If an applicant is in the United States legally, applicants can submit biometrics at any of the 133 Application Support Centres.

Biometrics are submitted only once every ten years. Applicants for Permanent Residency are required to submit biometrics only once, at the time of application.

Who needs to submit biometrics

You will need to submit biometrics if you are applying for a visitor visa, study permit, work permit or permanent residency.

If you are a Canadian citizen, applying for citizenship, a permanent resident, under the age of 14, over the age of 79, heads of states and heads of government, diplomatic or official representatives, US visa holders travelling through Canada, refugee claimants or protected persons who are applying for a study permit or work permit and have already submitted biometrics previously and temporary resident applicants who have an existing permanent residency application and have already submitted biometrics previously, you will NOT need to submit biometrics.

If you are applying for a visitors visa, study permit, work permit or permanent residency in Canada you will not have to submit biometrics until in-Canada service is established.

Biometrics: Fingerprints and Photographs

Depending on what you are applying for, you might (or might not) need to provide biometrics.

1) Electronic Travel Authority (eTA) – you will need to apply for a visa and provide biometrics.
2) Visitor or Super Visa – you will need to provide biometrics.
3) Visitor Extension – you will not need to provide biometrics
4) Transit through Canada (by air) – depending where you came from or where you’re going, and what the of travel document you have, you might need to provide biometrics.
5) Transit through Canada (by anything other than air) – you will need to provide biometrics.
6) Study Permit or Work Permit – you will need to provide biometrics.
7) Study Permit or Work Permit Extension – depending where you are applying from, you might need to provide biometrics.
8) Permanent Residence (including family and economic classes) – you will need to provide biometrics.
9) Permanent Resident Card – you will not need to provide biometrics.
10) Permanent Resident travel document – you will not need to provide biometrics.
11) Refugees, protected persons and asylum status – you will need to provide biometrics.

After submitting your application, you will be sent a letter where you can submit your biometrics.

You can submit your biometrics at designated authorized locations only.

Booking an appointment is necessary, depending on your location.

1) Visa Application Centres VACs
2) Application Support Centres ASCs (if applying from the United States)
3) Certain temporary locations at designated offices (if applying from Europe).

What happens after arriving in Canada

After you arrive in Canada, your identity will be verified to ascertain whether or not you are the same person who was authorized to travel to Canada.

The procedure for owing so will depend on where you enter Canada.

1) Through the eight major Canadian airports – your fingerprints will be verified at a primary inspection kiosk where the database will check your identity based on the information you provided during the application process.
2) Through smaller airports or points of entry by land – if you have been chosen for secondary inspection, Canada Border Services Agency CBSA officers will use a fingerprint verification device to verify your identity.

Entering Canada

1) Visitors, International Students and Foreign Workers – after you pass the identity check and it has been determined that you meet the entry requirements, the CBSA officer will put a stamp on your passport, and inform you about the length of your allowed stay in Canada. Typically, you can stay in Canada for up to six months. In certain cases, the CBSA officer may give you a shorter or longer stay in Canada to allow for your planned purpose of visit. You are encouraged to ask questions to the CBSA officer if necessary.
2) Permanent Residents – if you submitted an application for permanent residency outside Canada, and you are arriving for the first time, the entry requirements will depend on the immigration program you applied for.

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