A person providing his biometrics details at the airport in Canada.

The Government in Canada will require biometrics including fingerprints and a photo for the majority Canadian immigration applications as of July 31, 2018.

Under the new regulations, everyone who applies for a visitor visa, study or work permit (except U.S. nationals), or permanent residence will have to provide fingerprints and a photo.

For the purposes of repeat travel to Canada, those who apply for a visitor visa, study or work permit will only be required to provide their biometrics once every 10 years.

“By expanding our biometrics program, we facilitate entry into Canada and protect the integrity of our immigration system, by quickly and accurately establishing a traveler’s identity,” says Canada’s Immigration Minister, Ahmed Hussen.

Who will be affected?

The changes will take effect this summer starting July 31 for applicants from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Applicants from all other regions, namely Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas, will be required to provide their biometrics beginning December 31, 2018.

Why use biometrics?

Biometrics is the measurement of an individual's unique physical characteristics, such as fingerprints and facial features. The collected information is used to verify an individual’s identity. The use of biometric verification decreases the chances of mistaken or false identity.

Biometrics also help prevent:

  • identity fraud and theft;
  • known criminals from entering Canada;
  • deportees from re-entering Canada without permission; and
  • failed refugee claimants from re-entering Canada using false identity documents.

Some exemptions to the biometrics requirement include:

  • 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;
  • 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.

Where to locate a biometric service point?

A temporary exemption is put in place for anyone who is applying for a visa, study or work permit, or permanent residence inside Canada until service centres are established across the country.

There are currently 192 biometric service points in the United States and worldwide. To find your nearest service point, please visit this page.

Privacy concerns

In an official statement, the Government of Canada reassures all future applicants that biometrics information is handled with the highest level of security and privacy. It is also stated that all information collected at a service point is deleted once it has been sent to the Canadian Immigration Biometrics Identification System.

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