CANADA – Government Announces Expansion of Biometric Collection
On 6 April 2018, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced they will be expanding the current Biometrics Program from summer 2018 to include most nationalities.
Since 2013, Canada has collected biometrics (fingerprints and a photo) from 30 nationalities applying for a temporary resident visa, work permit, or study permit.
Amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act were passed in 2015, authorising the collection and verification of biometric information from all non-exempt foreign nationals, but have yet to come into force.
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations will now have to be amended to implement the 2015 amendments.
Who will this apply to?
From this summer, the requirement will be expanded to include almost all nationalities applying for visitor visas, work or study permits (excluding US nationals), permanent residence, or refugee or asylum status.
The biometrics requirement will be expanded to applicants from Europe, the Middle East and Africa from 31 July 2018, and to those from Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas from 31 December 2018.
The following are exempt from the biometric requirements:
- Canadian citizens, citizenship applicants (including passport applicants), or existing permanent residents;
- children under the age of 14;
- applicants over the age of 79 (there is no upper age exemption for asylum claimants)
- visa-exempt nationals coming to Canada as tourists who hold a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA);
- 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;
- US 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;
- those applying for a visa, study or work permit, or permanent residence in Canada are exempt until the in-Canada service is established.
How often are biometrics required?
- Foreign nationals will only be required to give their biometric data once every ten years.
- Current holders of valid visitor visas, or study or work permits, who have already given their biometric data do not need to give biometrics until ten years after biometrics were last given.
- Permanent residence applicants will have to give biometrics, regardless of whether and when they were given in the past.
Where can biometrics be given?
Biometrics can be given at official biometric collection points (usually visa application centres) around the world; for certain work and study permit applicants, and for asylum claimants, biometrics can be given at the port of entry; and for applicants within Canada, an in-Canada biometrics service will be established in 2019.
How much will it cost?
For individual applicants, a fee of CAD85 must be paid. For families applying together, the maximum total fee is CAD170 . For groups of three or more performing artists and their staff who apply for work permits at the same time, the total fee is capped at CAD 255.
How will the biometric data be used?
Fingerprints will be stored by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on the National Repository and checked against its immigration and criminal records.
Biometrics information will also be shared with the US, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
At the border, the Canada Border Services Agency will be able to quickly and accurately confirm whether a traveller’s identity is legitimate.
At eight major Canadian airports, fingerprint verification will be automatically conducted at a primary inspection kiosk. At other airports and land ports of entry, discretionary fingerprint verification will be conducted by a border services officer upon referral to secondary inspection, where the traveller’s identity will be verified to ensure that the person seeking entry to Canada is the same person who was approved overseas.
- Employers who may benefit from the immigration provisions of the CPTPP should consult their immigration specialist for further updates during the ratification and implementation process.