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IMPACT – MEDIUM
What is the change? Employers and travelers are reminded that Canada will soon expand its biometrics program to include foreign nationals from Asia, Asia/Pacific and the Americas 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 Dec. 31, applicants from Asia, Asia/Pacific and the Americas will be required to provide biometrics (fingerprints and a photo) when applying for any of the visas or permits listed above. Applicants applying for visas or permits in Canada will be exempted from the new requirements until in-country services are set up in 2019.
Background: Canada announced its expansion of the biometrics collection requirement in April. The first phase of the expansion, effective July 31, requires foreign nationals from Europe, the Middle East and Africa to submit biometrics when applying for the above-mentioned visas and permits.
Applicants will only be required to provide biometrics once every 10 years for temporary resident applications. 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.
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-residence applicants who have already provided biometrics as part of a permanent-residence 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.
Analysis & Comments: Employers should take note of the new biometrics policy and ensure that their employees are aware of the new requirements when applying for visas or permits on or after the relevant implementation date.
This alert was prepared by Garson LLP, an independent law firm, allied with Deloitte LLP in Canada.
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