Canada began taking biometrics in December 2013 as part of its efforts to enhance border security, facilitate legitimate travel, and protect the integrity of its immigration system. The use of biometrics helps to accurately identify individuals, prevent identity fraud, and streamline the visa application process.
Who needs to give biometrics:
1. Visa applicants: Temporary resident visa, study permit, or work permit applicants from certain countries and territories need to provide biometrics.
2. Permanent residence applicants: Applicants for permanent residence from certain countries and territories must provide biometrics.
3. Asylum claimants: Individuals claiming asylum in Canada must provide biometrics.
4. Certain foreign nationals already in Canada: Some foreign nationals applying for a visitor visa, study permit, or work permit from within Canada need to provide biometrics.
Who are Exempted:
1. Canadian citizens, citizenship applicants, and existing permanent residents.
2. Visa-exempt nationals coming to Canada as tourists with a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).
3. Children under the age of 14 and applicants over the age of 79.
4. Heads of state and government, as well as certain other dignitaries.
5. U.S. visa holders transiting through Canada.
The biometric fee for an individual applicant is CAD 85. For families applying together, the maximum total fee is CAD 170. There is a fee of CAD 255 for a group of performing artists and their staff (three or more persons).
When to give biometrics:
Biometrics are required before the application processing starts. Depending on the type of visa, the IRCC will provide a Biometric instructions letter. This letter is required at the time of giving biometrics.
Where and how to give biometrics:
Biometrics can be provided at designated Visa Application Centers (VACs) or Application Support Centers (ASCs) in the United States. Applicants need to book an appointment at the nearest VAC or ASC. During the appointment, fingerprints and a digital photograph will be taken. The process usually takes less than 15 minutes.
Additional information about biometrics:
1. Validity: Biometrics provided for a temporary resident visa, study permit, or work permit are valid for 10 years. For permanent residence applications, biometrics are valid for the duration of the application process.
2. Privacy and data protection: Canada has strict privacy laws in place to protect personal information, including biometric data. The data is securely stored and shared only with authorized immigration and law enforcement partners.
3. Biometric data sharing: Canada shares biometric data with the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom as part of the Five Country Conference (FCC) to enhance border security and prevent identity fraud.
4. Biometric screening at the port of entry: Upon arrival in Canada, travelers may be required to verify their biometrics at the port of entry. This process helps confirm the traveler’s identity and ensures that the person who provided the biometrics for the visa application is the same person entering Canada.
In conclusion, Canada’s biometrics program plays a crucial role in maintaining the security and integrity of its immigration system. By accurately identifying individuals and preventing identity fraud, biometrics help facilitate legitimate travel and protect the safety of Canadians and visitors alike.