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Canada’s biometrics program expands on July 31, 2018

On July 31, 2018, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will expand its requirement for visitors and newcomers to Canada provide biometrics. Biometrics refer to the measurement of unique physical attributes – typically fingerprints and facial features – to accurately verify an individual’s identity.

The expanded biometrics program will include 150 countries, as compared to 30 countries previously. The first stage of changes will impact applicants from the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. The program will be expanded to include applicants from Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas by December 31, 2018.

As part of the initiative, any individual applying for the following will need to provide fingerprints and a photograph as part of their application:

–  a visitor visa;

– a study or work permit (except for US nationals);

– refugee or asylum status; or

– Canadian permanent residence.

Biometric data will be retained for 10 years, and will be shared with the UK, New Zealand, Australia and the US. Once a PR applicant receives Canadian citizenship, their biometric data will be destroyed in an effort to maintain as much privacy as possible.

There are various exemptions from the biometric requirement, including:

– Canadian citizens, applicants for citizenship, and existing Canadian permanent residents;

– Visa-exempt nationals holding a valid Electronic Travel Authorization;

– Children under 14 years old;

– Applicants over 79 years old (though not for asylum claimants);

– Heads of state/government and other diplomats (certain criteria apply);

– US visa holders transiting through Canada;

– Refugee claimants or protected persons who have already provided their biometrics and are now applying for a work or              study permit; and

– temporary resident applicants who have already provided biometrics for a PR application that is still in process.

Applicants will be required to pay the government’s $85 biometric fee. Families applying together will pay a maximum fee of $170.

Further information can be found on IRCC’s biometric page here.

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