Nationals of Middle East, Europe and Africa must submit biometrics for a Canadian Visa

Posted on July 25, 2018

According to the news published in CICnews, applicants reflecting citizenship or residency of Europe, Middle East and Africa are required to submit biometrics when applying for a visit visa, study visa, work permit or permanent residency. This rule is also applicable to asylum seekers of Canada and shall come into effect from July 31, 2018. However, this rule does not include nationals of visa-exempt countries, who come to Canada as tourists on a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

The biometrics includes fingerprints and photo copies. This means that all applicants from the above mentioned continents will need to submit fingerprints and photo copies for the verification of identity at the time of the application and at the port of entry. Applicants in the age range of 14 years to 79 years will be asked to submit their biometrics. The procedure and time involves takes only a few minutes and costs CAD $85 for an individual (CAD $170 for accompanying family members).

It is also stated that from December 31, 2018 this rule may be imposed on the nationals of Asia, America, and Asia-Pacific. The Government of Canada states that this initiative is taken to facilitate application processing and simplify the entry of low-risk travelers in Canada.

A view at the process and where to submit the biometrics:

Applicants will be asked to submit biometrics both during application and at the entry level of Canada. Visa Officers will use the biometrics to screen applicants and analyze their prior criminal convictions or Canadian Immigration infractions (if any). Also, the biometrics will be used as a confirmation from the traveler on his identity while entering Canada.

Self-serve Primary Inspection Kiosks will be placed at major Canadian airports and will be used to verify fingerprints, photos and receive traveler confirmation through an onscreen declaration.

“Fingerprint verification will be on a discretionary basis by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers at other Canadian airports and at land ports of entry.”- a statement from the news.

Where to submit the biometrics:

If you are applying for the a Canadian visa (in person) for the first time, from a place outside of Canada, you will be required to submit your biometrics at the Government of Canada- authorized Visa Application Centre (VAC).

If you are applying for a Canadian visa online or by email, you need to obtain a Biometrics Instruction Letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and submit the copy of the same to the nearest VAC.

Nationals of the above mentioned nations who are applying from the United States can submit their biometrics at the Application Support Centers.

Validity of the biometrics

For a visitor visa, work permit or a study visa, you are required to give your biometrics once in every 10 years. Also, with every refusal of your application you will have to submit/renew your biometrics.

If you are applying for a permanent residence visa, IRCC confirms that you will have to submit a new biometrics regardless of whether you have given your biometrics prior for a study/work or visit visa. This obligation also implies to you if you have submitted a permanent residence visa application under a different program.

Several candidates exempted from biometrics obligation:

Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada states that  candidate(s) with any of the below status is exempted from submitting biometrics:

  • Children under the age of 14 years
  • Candidates over the age 79 years (this does not involved asylum claimants
  • Canadian citizens or candidates under citizenship process or existing permanent residents
  • Nationals of visa-exempt countries moving to Canada on Electronic Travel Authorization
  • Head authorities of States/Heads authorities of Government
  • Cabinet Ministers/Accredited Diplomats of other countries and United Nations (entering into Canada on official business)
  • US visa holders transiting through Canada
  • Refugee claimants/protected persons who have submitted biometrics prior for either study visas or temporary visas (work permits or visit visas)
  • Temporary residency visa holders who have provided biometrics previously in support of PR application which is in process

Security of submitted biometrics

IRCC confirms that the fingerprints submitted as biometrics are sent electronically to the Government of Canada’s secure Canadian Immigration Biometrics Identification System. Once the personal information is successfully transmitted to this database, it is deleted from the collection system automatically.

The applicant’s fingerprints will be checked by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) against the fingerprint records of criminals, refugee claimants, deportees and temporary residents (applicants). Any information that relates to the existing RCMP records will be analyzed by the visa officer working on the application, who shall also use the information to make a final decision on the application.

IRCC also says that the information is shared with the United States, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. This is done in accordance with Canada’s privacy laws, civil liberties and human rights commitments, including Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The fingerprints collected by the Government of Canada are kept in records for a time period of 15 years, calculated from the time they are submitted to the authorities. After this time (or sooner when person receives his Canadian citizenship) these records are deleted.