Immigration Program Update: Biometric Requirements


Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has recently announced that they will be expanding their biometrics program. IRCC currently collects biometrics, (fingerprints and facial recognition scans), from citizens of 29 countries. The program will now expand to include all temporary and permanent immigration applicants. The program will also expand to include applicants already in Canada extending temporary documents or applying for permanent residence.


Biometrics will increase the accurate identification of individuals applying for status Canada. This will assist in reducing the consequences of identity theft, the use of false documents, and ensure that applicants with similar names and birth dates are not confused in the system. This type of confusion has previously caused extensive security processing delays for individuals through no fault of their own

Biometrics also assist in identifying those who have previously been deported from Canada and not yet properly authorized to return.


The new biometric requirements will be rolled out in two phases. As of July 31, 2018, citizens of European, African, and Middle East countries will be required to complete biometrics. Citizens of countries from Asia and the Americas will be required to provide biometrics as of December 2018.

Both the principal applicant and all accompanying dependants between the ages of 14 and 79 inclusive will need to provide biometric data.

Visa exempt individuals are not required to provide biometrics when entering Canada for visitor purposes only.

Citizens of the United States of America will be exempt from the biometric requirement for the purposes of all temporary applications, however they will be required to provide biometrics for permeant residence applications.


Biometrics can be provided in a variety of places dependant on the type of immigration application. Those who need to apply for a temporary resident visa (TRV) can provide their biometrics at designated visa application centres (VACs) associated with their location or residence.

For individuals who are visa exempt, biometrics can be provided at one of 57 ports of entry across Canada. This will include all major international airports in Canada.

For those already in Canada and who have not previously provided biometrics, in Canada enrollment centres have already been opened. Biometrics will be requested when completing an extension or permanent residence application.


Biometrics cannot be completed upfront and can only be submitted in conjunction with an application that has been filed.

When applying in person through a VAC, biometrics will be taken at the time the application is submitted.

When applying online, the visa post will issue a biometrics request through the online portal within 24 hours. The applicant will then have 30 days to attend a VAC to provide biometric data.

When an applicant makes an application at the port of entry, biometrics will be gathered at the port of entry, however biometrics will need to be processed prior to the adjudication of an application. Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has undertaken to have biometrics processed within two hours. Although testing pilots have shown response times to be 15-20 minutes, we should expect that processing times will increase during periods of high volume at the port of entry.


The policy states that biometric data will be valid for a period of 10 years and will not need to be resubmitted when extending an application. That being said, experience has shown that if an application has been refused, the visa post will request that biometrics be resubmitted when submitting a new application for consideration.


The provision of biometrics will increase the costs and timing of immigration applications. Biometrics services at the VAC are provided at the cost of CAD$85 for each person who is required to provide the data. In addition, reported standard processing times for submitted applications will not start to run until biometric data has been provided. Delays on providing the data will increase individual application processing time.

In general, individuals who are visa exempt for Canada can anticipate longer wait times at the port of entry. This may lead to an increased number of applicants making their work permit applications at visa posts abroad in order to avoid being delayed at the port of entry.

Given the above, it will be important to plan your initial trip to Canada well in advance to ensure you have the option to apply at a visa post abroad if desired. It will also mean that when planning initials trips to Canada you should ensure that your flight is booked with appropriate time buffers to allow you to complete the biometric process.


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