On July 15, 2020, due to the closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada temporarily exempted individuals applying for temporary residence within Canada from providing biometrics. The Canadian government is now resuming the collection of biometrics for those who are applying for temporary residence in Canada.
This includes those applying:
- to extend their stay as a student, worker or visitor
- to restore their status as a student, worker or visitor
- for a work or study permit
- for a visitor visa
- for a temporary resident permit
There are some exemptions, including some temporary measures for biometrics collection that are still in place for special situations.
There are 70 Service Canada Centre biometric collection sites across Canada where applicants who are applying for temporary residence can give their biometrics. Those who are required to give biometrics will pay the fee upon submission of their application and later receive an instruction letter though their application portal.
Temporary residence applicants who already provided biometrics in a previous Canadian immigration application are not required to provide them again if the biometrics are still valid. To check the validity of an applicant’s biometric data, use the online tool available here.
The following excerpt was taken from the book ‘Temporary Entry into the Canadian Labour Market’ written by Stephen Green, Alexandra Cole, Cristina Guida and Peter Salerno, published by Emond Publishing. The excerpt helps to give some background into biometric collection in Canada and is found on pages 63-64 of the book.
Foreign nationals applying for a Canadian work permit are required to provide their biometric information as part of the processing of their application. Collecting biometric data involves taking fingerprints and photos of the foreign national seeking entry into Canada. Initially, biometrics were required only for foreign nationals who came from certain identified high-risk countries who were applying for a work permit from outside of Canada.
Unlike medical examinations, biometric collection is generally done after a work permit application is submitted. An exception to this is in instances where the work permit is submitted in person at a local VAC office where biometrics are done when submitting the work permit application. Once the application is submitted, a request letter is generated within the IRCC online portal, allowing the applicant 30 days to submit their biometric data. Appointments at the designated collection centres can only be made with a copy of the request letter from IRCC. It should be noted that the two-week processing under the GSS program only begins once biometrics have been completed. Therefore, biometric requests should be carried out as soon as possible to facilitate efficient application processing with IRCC.
The biometric collection program aims to enhance the efficiency and integrity of the Canadian immigration system. Fingerprints and photo collection help immigration officers verify people’s identity, which simplifies the processing of applications for legitimate travellers. Biometric data also makes it easier for officers to prevent individuals from entering the country if they pose a risk to the safety and security of Canadians. To facilitate repeated travel to Canada, applicants are required to give their biometrics once every ten years.
There are some exceptions to the biometric requirement, notably, applicants under the age of 14 or over the age of 79; visa-exempt nationals entering Canada as visitors; heads of state, the royal family; US nationals coming to visit, work, or study temporarily in Canada; and lawful permanent residents of the United States coming to visit Canada.