Beginning next week, many international students and graduates from Europe, the Middle East and Africa will need to give their biometrics (fingerprints and a facial recognition photo) when applying to visit, study, work or settle as a permanent resident in Canada.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) says that applicants from these regions will need to provide these biometrics starting July 31 if they don’t meet the various exemptions to the rule.
Applicants from Asia, Asia Pacific and the America will be required to provide Biometrics identification starting December 31, 2018.
To help you better understand Canada’s new Biometric identification procedures, Canada Study News put together the following questions and answers:
1. Who needs to give biometrics?
According to IRCC, if you are applying for a study or work permit, a visitor visa, or permanent residence in Canada for the first time, you will need to provide your biometrics (unless you are exempt).
If you have already submitted your biometrics information as part of a previous application, your information may still be valid.
IRCC says biometric verification will be required, from non-exempt applicants, once every 10 years in order to facilitate multiple entries into the country.
If one of the following cases applies to you, biometric data may not be required:
- You are a visa-exempt national coming to Canada as a tourist and you have a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).
- You have already provided biometrics in support of your permanent resident application that is under review.
- You are a U.S. national applying to study in Canada.
Until biometrics collection services become available, anyone applying for a visa, study or work permit, or permanent residence in Canada will be not be required to provide biometric identification as part of their application.
This temporary exemption for applicants in Canada is expected to end once biometrics service points become available.
2. Why does the Canadian government collect biometrics?
Biometrics collection can help the government prevent identify fraud/theft, entry of criminals, re-entry of deportees and false identity claims.
IRCC says that by confirming the identity of individuals entering the country, it can maintain the health, safety and security of Canadians and residents in the country.
3. When do I need to give my fingerprints and photo?
When submitting a study permit application, IRCC says that biometric details may be given after an application is submitted, fees are paid and a biometric instruction letter is obtained. Otherwise, you can submit your biometric data at the same time you submit your application at a Visa Application Centre.
IRCC says that biometric data should not be provided before an application is submitted.
4. Where can I give my fingerprint and photo?
The process of giving biometrics is fast and secure. It may take only a few minutes to complete when done at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) or authorized service point.
To support the expansion of its biometrics program, Canada is opening new Visa Application Centres in countries where biometrics collection demand will grow. There are currently 137 VACs worldwide that provide biometric collection. If you are in the U.S., you can go to any of 135 Application Support Centers.
Find the nearest VAC here.
5. Will my application take longer?
IRCC encourages all applicants to give their biometrics information as soon as a Biometric Instruction Letter is obtained.
Generally, IRCC can start processing your study permit application as soon as its complete and having your biometrics submitted will only help the process.
6. Is my information kept safe and secure?
The Government of Canada says biometrics information is handled with the highest level of security and privacy. On their webiste, IRCC states that all biometrics data collected at a service point is deleted once it has been sent to the Canadian Immigration Biometrics Identification System, where they will be checked by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
7. How much does the Biometrics procedure cost?
In addition to application fees, providing biometrics costs CAD $85 for an individual or CAD $170 for a family that is applying at the same time.
8. Who is exempt from the biometrics requirement?
IRCC says the following are exempt from having to provide biometrics:
- Canadian citizens, citizenship applicants (including passport applicants), or existing permanent residents;
- visa-exempt nationals coming to Canada as tourists who hold a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA);
- children under the age of 14;
- applicants over the age of 79 (there is no upper age exemption for asylum claimants);
- heads of state and heads of government;
- cabinet ministers and accredited diplomats of other countries and the United Nations, coming to Canada on official business;
- U.S. visa holders transiting through Canada;
- refugee claimants or protected persons who have already provided biometrics and are applying for a study or work permit;
- temporary resident applicants who have already provided biometrics in support of a permanent resident application that is still in progress.
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