By the end of 2019, biometric collection points are planned be functioning and established inside Canada. But for now, most travelers to Canada will need to give their biometric information at collection points outside Canada. But regardless of where you give your biometric information, you will almost certainly be required to do so if you plan to visit Canada for most reasons. So, it’s time to brush up on what biometrics are and why they are now required by immigration authorities in Canada for almost every foreign national who is applying to go to Canada.
Biometrics are the measurement of unique physical characteristics of individuals, such as:
- Fingerprints: which are recorded digitally
- Facial characteristics: which are recorded by taking a photo/scan of your face or your eyes.
We use biometrics to establish that your identity is valid. In other words, to ensure that you are who you claim to be. Biometrics are linked to your identity documents – like your passport and to your visa application – in order to provide a robust method of identifying people. This helps authorities to:
- Avoid mistaken identities if your personal data (birthdates, names etc.) is similar to other applicants or
- Identify deliberate falsification and theft of identities
- Simplify the process of re-entry the next time you come to Canada.
We will show you when you should give your biometrics during the application process for three common types of visas for travelers to Canada:
- Work permits
- Study permits
- Permanent Resident visas for Temporary Resident Permit Holders.
Step 1: Do I Need to Give Biometrics?
Find out if you need to give biometrics. By now, travellers from most countries around the globe will need to provide biometric information when applying to travel to Canada. Go here and answer a few questions using the IRCC tool to see if you need to give biometrics.
Step 2: How to Give Biometrics
If the answer to the IRCC tool is yes, you then need to find out when during your visa application process, you will need to give biometrics. To do this go here to find out which application form you need. Let’s look at each of our 3 visa application types listed above.
Work Permit applications & biometrics:
You should submit a completed application form for your work permit/visa and include your biometrics fee with the application form.
- You pay for your biometrics (CAD$85 per person for people 14 – 79 years old) before you give your biometrics at a collection point.
- You will then receive a Biometric Instruction Letter (BIL) from IRCC giving you details on where to go. Bring the letter with you along with your valid passport when you go to provide biometrics. You will have 30 days from the date of the letter to provide biometrics.
- Depending on your home country, you may have to make a reservation in order to give biometrics. Go here and enter your country to get additional details on how to provide biometrics at VAC’s (Visa Application Centres worldwide) or ASC’s (Application Support Centres in the USA)
- Once immigration authorities receive your biometric information, your application will begin to be processed. Please remember that a BIL from IRCC does NOT mean that your visa has been approved. It merely means that your application has been submitted, the application and biometric fees have been paid, and once the immigration officials receive your biometric information, they will then begin processing your application.
- Biometric information for a visitor visa, work permit, or study permit are valid for 10 years so if you apply for another study permit less than 10 years later, you will not have to submit new biometric information.
Study permit/visa applications:
The process for giving biometrics for study permits is identical to that of work permits.
Some study and work permit applicants can do so at a Port of Entry (POE: generally, the airport in Canada where you arrive). If you are one of these types of applicants, you can also give biometrics at the same time as you apply for a work or study permit at your POE.
Permanent Residence – Temporary Resident Permit Holder:
Most often you will receive permanent resident status through a work permit application for a full-time permanent job that you have been offered in Canada, or through a provincial nomination. However, you can also apply for permanent resident status as a temporary resident permit holder (application form 5527). A temporary resident permit is NOT the same as a visitor visa or a temporary work permit, or a study permit. It is given to people who are inadmissible for limited, well-defined reasons. If you have a valid temporary resident permit you may be able to apply for permanent resident status from within Canada.
- However, you may be required to submit biometrics depending on your particular situation as a temporary resident permit holder.
- If you and your family are required to give biometric information, then you must pay your biometrics fee along with other fees when you apply for permanent resident status.
- You will receive a BIL (biometrics instruction letter) as in the cases above, but until biometric collection centres are fully functional in Canada (hopefully by the end of 2019) you will have to leave Canada and travel to a VAC (Visa Application Centre) at various locations abroad or to an ASC (Application Support Centre) in the U.S. in order to give biometrics.
As you can see, if you are applying from within Canada for permanent resident status, you may have to leave the country in order to give biometrics. If you are in Canada on a temporary resident permit when this happens, it may endanger your ability to return to Canada because you may be deemed to have broken the conditions of your temporary resident permit.
Because of this, it might be best to wait until Canada’s domestic biometric collection centres are up and running before applying for permanent resident status from within Canada, if you do so as a temporary resident permit holder.
- This may mean that you have to extend your temporary permit, or if you are on a valid study or work permit, apply for an extension of whichever permit applies to you. You may also qualify for an exemption from giving biometrics. Consult the application guide that refers to the application form you need to fill out (study permit, work permit, etc.).