Since July 31, 2018, nationals from countries in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East have been required to give biometrics in order to travel to and work, study, and live in Canada. This is to ensure a fair and comprehensive immigration system that remains trusted by the Canadian public.

 

What are biometrics?

Biometric device by Z22 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

by Z22 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

  • They are physical characteristics unique to each individual and can be used therefore to help confirm the identity of an individual.
  • In the case of Canada, biometrics means:
    • A digital photograph of the person’s face
    • Digital fingerprints of the person

Fingerprint by DoD_Biometrics_Consortium_Conference_13_Sep_2007.pdf: UnknownUnknown derivative work: Geo Swan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

[Public Domain]

 

Who needs to give biometrics?

  • Anyone from a specified list of countries who is applying for:
    • A visitor visa,
    • A work or study permit (except US nationals)
    • Permanent residence
    • Refugee or asylum status

    Go here to see if your country requires biometrics. Most countries in the Americas and Asia do not require biometrics but there are exceptions like Colombia and Bangladesh, for example. You should always check the above linked IRCC webpage to see whether your country has to give biometrics.

  • Anyone who has an alien’s passport regardless of what country they come from. An alien’s passport is a travel document you obtain from your country of residence when you are a non-citizen of that country and you are unable to get a passport from your home country. 

 

How do you give biometrics?

  • If you are applying to visit, study, work, or live in Canada for the first time and are from a country that is required to give biometrics, then you have to give biometrics.
  • If you have already given biometrics, go to Check Status Tool to see if your biometrics are still valid. As long as they are still valid you do not have to give biometrics again.

The following steps are involved in paying for and giving biometrics:

 

Step 1: Pay your biometrics fee

You do this when you submit your application before you give biometrics. If you pay after you submit your application, you will experience delays in having your application processed.

 

Step 2: Receive an instruction letter

Canadian immigration authorities will send you a letter with instructions on how and where to give biometrics. You must take this letter with you when you go to give biometrics. If you apply for your visitor/work/study/permanent resident visa on paper and pay your biometrics fee after you submit your application, your letter will be delayed.

However, if you submit a paper application in person and pay your biometrics fee in person at a Visa Application Centre or VAC you can give biometrics right away.

The following tables summarize your options to getting your letter of instruction for biometrics:

 

If You Apply Online

Visitor Visas, Study Permits, Work Permits
If pay biometrics fee when you submit application You’ll receive message in your account message box within 24 hours informing you that the letter has arrived electronically
If pay biometrics fee after you submit application You’ll get an email several days letter informing you that you have received the letter electronically
Permanent Residence
If you submit your complete application and pay your biometrics fee at the same time You’ll get a message in your account message box several days or several weeks later informing you that you have received the letter electronically
If you pay your biometrics fee after you submit your complete application It can take several weeks before you receive an email saying your letter of instruction is in your message box

 

If You Send Your Application by Mail

Visitor Visas, Study Permits, Work Permits
If you pay your biometrics fee when you submit your application You will receive a letter several weeks after submitting your application
If you pay your biometrics fee after you submit your application You will receive a letter several weeks after submitting your application
Permanent Residence
If you pay your biometrics fee when you submit your application It can several days or several weeks to receive your letter by mail
If you pay your biometrics fee after you submit your application It can take several weeks to receive your letter by mail

 

If You Apply at a Visa Application Centre (VAC)

If you submit a paper application in person and pay the biometrics fee in person at a VAC You can give biometrics right away without needing a letter of instruction
If you pay your biometrics fee at the same time as you submit your application online at a VAC You will get a letter of instruction in your account message box within 24 hours
If you pay your biometrics fee after you submit your online application at a VAC It can take several days before you receive your letter

 

Step 3: Go to an official Biometrics Collection Point

Once you have received your letter of instruction after having paid your biometrics fee you should then make a reservation as soon as possible at a biometrics collection point. Go here to find the nearest one.

  • Worldwide you can go to any VAC and give biometrics. ASC also provide other services in the local language. The ASC does not have to be located in your country of residence.
  • In Europe aside from the regular biometric collection points given in the link above you have:
    • As of July 31, 2018: there have been temporary biometric collection services available at the Canadian embassy in Dublin. Go here for more information.
    • As of mid-September 2018: Kigali, Rwanda; Stockholm Sweden; and Tel Aviv Israel have opened Visa Application Centres (VAC’s) with biometric collection points.
    • As of early November 2018: Athens, Greece; Berlin, Germany, and Vienna, Austria will have or are opening Visa Application Centres with biometric collection points.
    • As of early December 2018: Antananarivo, Madagascar; and Cape Town, South Africa will be opening or will have opened Visa Application Centres with biometric collection points.

    Until the VACs open you can give biometrics at the embassies in the countries involved. In the case of France, you can give biometrics in a leased commercial space in Lyon, France. Inquire at the Canadian embassy in Paris for more information.

  • In the USA you can go to an Application Support Centre or ASC. They are only for collecting biometrics. There are some ASC’s in overseas US territories.

Taking biometrics is a simple and completely safe process that takes only a few minutes. So, make sure that if you have to give biometrics that you pay the fee and reserve a spot at a VAC or ASC (or other location like an embassy’s consulate services) as soon as possible.  


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