Reminder: new biometrics requirement set to take effect

19 Jul 18



What is the change? Employers and travelers are reminded that Canada will soon expand its biometrics program to foreign nationals applying for visitor visas, work or study permits (excluding U.S. nationals), permanent residence or refugee or asylum status.

What does the change mean? Beginning July 31, applicants from Europe, the Middle East and Africa will be required to provide biometrics (fingerprints and a photo) when applying for any of the visas or permits listed above. The requirement will be extended to applicants from Asia, Asia/Pacific and the Americas on Dec. 31. Applicants applying for visas or permits in Canada will be exempted from the new requirements until in-country services are set up in 2019.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visitor visas, work or study permits (excluding U.S. nationals), permanent residence or refugee or asylum status.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals applying for any of the visas or permits listed above.
  • Impact on processing times: The change will add to the time it takes to obtain visas to travel to, work, reside or study in Canada.

Background: Canada currently only requires biometrics from 30 nationalities, but authorities announced in April that they will expand the collection of biometrics beginning this summer. Applicants will only be required to provide biometrics once every 10 years.

Foreign nationals filing online applications abroad will receive a biometrics request shortly after submitting their application. From that point, they will generally have 30 days to submit biometrics in person at a Visa Application Centre. Applicants eligible to apply for work or study permits at the Canadian border will be able to submit biometrics at 79 ports of entry. Officials anticipate that biometric screening at ports of entry will generally take about two hours.

The requirement does not apply to Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Exemptions will also be available to children under the age of 14, seniors over the age of 79, visa-exempt tourists who hold a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), U.S. visa holders transiting through Canada, and certain high-level government officials traveling on official business.

Refugee claimants or protected persons who have already provided biometrics will not be required to resubmit biometrics when applying for a study or work permit. This rule will also apply to temporary resident applicants who have already provided biometrics as part of a permanent resident application that has not yet been decided. In-country applicants for visas, study or work permits or residence permits will temporarily be exempted from the biometrics requirement until service centers are established in Canada.

BAL Analysis: Employers should take note of the new biometrics policy and ensure their employees are aware of the new requirements when applying for visas or permits on or after the relevant implementation date.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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