What are biometrics?
Biometrics are the measurement of unique physical characteristics. For Canadian immigration, biometrics include fingerprints and a photograph of the face. Biometrics significantly reduce the chance that one individual could pose as or be mistaken for another. Biometrics are internationally recognized as one of the most reliable ways to identify people, and they are used worldwide.
Canada has long had one of the highest per capita rates of immigration in the world and is an attractive destination for immigrants and visitors.
Accurately establishing identity is an important part of immigration decisions and helps keep Canadians safe.
For over 20 years, biometrics have played a role in supporting immigration screening and decision-making in Canada. The Government of Canada currently collects biometrics from in-Canada refugee claimants and overseas refugee resettlement applicants, individuals ordered removed from Canada, and individuals from 30 foreign nationalities applying for a temporary resident visa, work permit, or study permit.
Expanding biometrics enrolment to more clients will strengthen immigration programs through effective screening (biometric collection, verification and information sharing) and enable Canada to uphold its humanitarian tradition, attract talent, and facilitate application processing and travel – while maintaining public confidence in our immigration system.
What is biometrics expansion?
Biometrics expansion will:
Expand the current biometric screening program to all temporary resident visa, study and work permit applicants (excluding U.S. nationals), as well as to all permanent residence applicants.
Verify the biometrics of these travellers upon their arrival at major airports and expand the capacity to collect biometrics and conduct fingerprint verification (i.e., in the secondary services and inspections area) at additional ports of entry.
Implement biometric-based information sharing arrangements with our Migration 5 partners (United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia), in a manner that respects Canada’s privacy laws, civil liberties and human rights commitments, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
When and where will biometrics expansion be implemented?
Biometrics expansion, which includes the implementation of new requirements for immigration applicants, an expanded biometrics collection service network and automated fingerprint verification, will be rolled out over 2 years (2018–2019).
The new regulations to expand the biometrics requirement are expected to roll-out in 2 phases. Beginning in the summer of 2018, the first phase will enter into effect for applicable foreign nationals from Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The second phase will follow in the winter and apply to foreign nationals from Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas.
Depending on where they apply, applicants will be able to give their biometrics in Canada at select collection centres and select ports of entry, overseas at Visa Application Centres and in the U.S. at Application Support Centers.
Are there any exemptions from the biometric requirement?
Yes, exemptions include:
Canadian citizens, citizenship applicants (including passport applicants), or existing permanent residents;
visa-exempt nationals coming to Canada as tourists who hold a valid electronic travel authorization (eTA);
children under the age of 14;
applicants over the age of 79 (there is no upper age exemption for asylum claimants);
heads of state and heads of government;
cabinet ministers and accredited diplomats of other countries and the United Nations, coming to Canada on official business;
U.S. visa holders transiting through Canada;
refugee claimants or protected persons who have already provided biometrics and are applying for a study or work permit;
temporary resident applicants who have already provided biometrics in support of a permanent resident application that is still in progress.
For more information, please consult Canada.ca/biometrics.