What is the change? Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Thursday that Canada plans to expand biometrics to nationals of all non-visa-exempt countries before they travel to Canada.

What does the change mean? Anyone from a non-visa-exempt country applying for a visa or permit to visit, study or work in Canada will be required to provide digital photographs and fingerprints before their application will be approved.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: All visas and permits.
  • Who is affected: Nationals of non-visa-exempt countries applying to visit, study or work in Canada.
  • Impact on processing times: Processing times themselves may not be significantly impacted, but the change will add to the time it takes to prepare an application to visit, study or work in Canada.
  • Business impact: The change requires an additional step and possibly travel for visa and permit applicants.
  • Next steps: Affected applicants will be required to visit a local Visa Application Center where the biometrics process can be completed.

Background: The change is designed to improve border officers’ ability to verify visa holders’ identity upon their arrival in Canada. The new rules apply to people ages 14 to 80. Affected applicants will be required to complete biometrics within 30 days of submitting their applications and pay a government biometrics fee. Nationals of visa-exempt countries are not affected by the change. A list of non-visa-exempt countries is available on Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website.

BAL Analysis: The expanded biometrics program will add an additional step to the application process for a significant number of foreign nationals planning to visit, study or work in Canada. Those affected should be sure to leave enough time to submit biometrics. Applications that require biometrics risk being rejected if the biometrics are not provided within 30 days of application submission.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Canada. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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