Canada expands its biometrics screening program

From today, all nationals from countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East are required to provide biometrics (fingerprints and a photo) if they are applying for a Canadian visitor visa, a work or study permit, or permanent residence.

Canada currently collects biometrics from in-Canada refugee claimants and overseas refugee resettlement applicants, individuals ordered removed from Canada and individuals from 30 foreign nationalities applying for a temporary resident visa, work permit, or study permit.

Biometric screening has proven effective in protecting the safety and security of Canadians and the integrity of the immigration system. Systematic fingerprint verification allows border service officers to confirm a traveller’s identity and better manage traffic flow at the border.

“Each year, Canada welcomes millions of visitors and accepts hundreds of thousands of students, workers and permanent residents,” said Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Immigration Minister. “Canadians understand the importance of immigration and travel to our country’s economic and social well-being. By expanding our biometrics program, we facilitate entry into Canada and protect the integrity of our immigration system by quickly and accurately establishing a traveller’s identity.”

The Government of Canada has taken several steps to make giving biometrics easier for travellers, including only requiring that temporary residents provide their biometrics once every ten years (those applying for a visa, or a study or work permit).

Canada is also increasing its Visa Application Centre (VAC) presence in the next two years. Canada has one of the largest VAC networks in comparison with other countries; more than 97 per cent of applicants can access a VAC in their country of residence. By November 2019, Canada will have a network of at least 157 VACs in 105 countries.

More than 70 countries are using biometrics in immigration and border management. Canada’s Migration 5 partners – the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, and New Zealand – have implemented biometric programs; so have the 26 Schengen states in Europe, and other countries around the world like Japan, South Africa and India.

Article published 31st July 2018