In April 2018, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced an upcoming expansion of the Biometrics Program, which first began in 2013 and currently requires nationals of 30 countries to submit fingerprints and a photograph when applying for a temporary resident visa (TRV), work permit, or study permit.
The expansion will occur in two stages. Starting 31 July 2018, the biometrics requirement will expand to applicants from Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The requirement will further be expanded to applicants from Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas on 31 December 2018.
Biometrics may be given at Canadian visa application centers around the world, occasionally at the port of entry, and, for applicants within Canada, an in-country biometrics service will be established in 2019. Applicants will be required to give their biometrics once every ten years. Individuals applying for permanent residence will be required to give biometrics even if they have done so in the last ten years for a different application. Fees will range from 85 to 255 Canadian dollars, depending on the number of applicants (for families or groups applying together) and type of application.
The data given during biometrics will be used to check against immigration and criminal records, to verify travelers’ identity at both airport and land ports of entry, and will also be shared with the US, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
The following categories of individuals will not be subject to biometrics data collection:
- Individuals under the age of 14 or over the age of 79;
- U.S. visa holders transiting through Canada;
- Foreign government and United Nations officials and diplomats coming to Canada on official business;
- Canadian citizens, applicants for citizenship (including passport applicants), or existing permanent residents;
- Visa-exempt nationals coming to Canada as tourists who hold a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA);
- Refugee claimants or protected persons who have already provided biometrics and are applying for a study permit or work permit;
- Temporary residence applicants who have already provided biometrics in support of a permanent residence application that is still in progress; and
- Individuals filing applications in Canada will be exempt until the in-Canada service is established.
Employers sending employees to Canada should consult Foster prior to the assignment to determine if the individual will require biometrics.
Foster will continue to monitor the changes to the biometrics.