Canada expands biometrics collection program

Canada has expanded its biometrics collection program, meaning that nationals from countries in Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas will need to give their fingerprints and photo (biometrics) when applying for a visitor visa, study or work permit, or for permanent residence.

The rule came into effect on 31st December 2018, and has applied to applicants from countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa since 31st July 2018.

Having biometrics makes it easier for immigration and border services officers to stop individuals who pose a risk to the safety and security of Canadians. It also helps officials verify travellers’ identities, makes processing applications easier and simplifies entry for legitimate travellers.

“Collecting biometrics from most foreign travellers coming to Canada makes sense on so many levels: it strengthens the integrity of our immigration system, while helping protect the safety and security of Canadians,” explained Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Immigration Minister. “Not only does biometrics collection give us a reliable, accurate tool to establish a traveller’s identity, but it also improves our ability to process applications and the entry of people upon arrival in Canada,” he added.

The biometrics requirement adds a new step in the application process. Applicants need to go in person to give their biometrics. Most will do this at a visa application centre (VAC) before they come to Canada.

The Government of Canada has been taking steps to make the biometrics process as smooth as possible. This includes expanding its worldwide network of VACs. There are now 152 VACs in 103 countries and allowing applicants to go to any VAC in any country they are legally allowed to enter. If already legally in the United States, applicants can go to one of 135 Application Support Centres.

The Government of Canada continues to closely monitor the impact of requiring biometrics to ensure that the level of service available meets the needs of applicants. Canada will be providing periodic biometrics collection services in specific locations as needed.

There are also facilitative measures for those who make repeat visits to the country. For example, those coming to visit, study or work temporarily will only need to give their biometrics once every 10 years.

Article published 2nd January 2019