Beginning in September 2013, certain foreign nationals applying for a temporary resident visa, study permit (TRV), or work permit will be required to have their fingerprints and photograph—or biometric information—taken, in person, at an appropriate Visa Application Centre (VAC).
On June 28, 2012, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, or Bill C-31, received Royal Assent. This legislation—which drew much criticism from opposing parties who feared that the bill would place too much power in the hands of the Minister—brought forward measures to protect the integrity of Canada’s immigration system, including the mandatory provision of biometric data from temporary resident visa applicants.
Prescribed foreign nationals applying for a TRV, work permit or study permit, would need to appear in person at a Visa Application Centre equipped with biometric enrolment services, to provide their fingerprints and have their digital photograph taken.
If an applicant is in a country where a biometric collection centre is not available, the applicant would be required to provide their fingerprints and photograph at a Canadian visa office.
At the port of entry, a border services officer will use the digital photo to verify the identity of the person to whom the visa was issued to.
The biometric information will be valid for the duration of the visa.
In addition to the existing TRV, work permit and study permit fees, applicants will except to pay a new fee of $85 CAD to enroll their biometric information.
The proposed biometric fee for family members applying together is a maximum of $170 CAD, while the fee for performing artists (groups of 3+) and their staff is set at $255 CAD.
Certain applicants would be exempt from the payment of the biometrics fee, including accredited diplomats, members of the armed forces of a designated country, and certain transit visa applicants.
As stipulated in the amended Regulations applicants who fall into the following categories would be exempt from providing biometric information:
- A person who is under the age of 14 or over the age of 79;
- A properly accredited (i.e., travelling for official purposes) diplomat, consular officer, representative or official and the family members of such a person; and
- A transit visa applicant who is destined to or returning from the United States and holds a valid United States entry visa.
CIC has posted, on their website, the selected countries, territory, and the proposed dates when mandatory collection of biometrics information will begin:
September 2, 2013
October 15, 2013
Democratic Republic of Congo
December 7, 2013