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Biometric Requirements for Certain Nationalities Now in Force

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The Canadian Government now requires biometric data from certain visitors, students, and temporary workers. This requirement, originally announced in the Budget plan for 2008, began its first phase on September 5th, 2013.

The implementation of biometrics requirements for temporary residents of certain nationalities is already the norm in countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Australia. By obtaining biometric information from individuals, Canada intends to greatly reduce immigration fraud and prevent criminals, deportees, and failed refugee claimants from entering the country.

What are the Biometrics Requirements?

Temporary residents from designated countries must now provide fingerprints and have photographs taken at their nearest Canadian Visa Application Center (VAC) or Visa Office before coming to Canada. These will be collected in addition to the personal information that is already required from visitors, students, or temporary workers.

Fingerprints will be sent to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and photographs will be stored by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Information will be transferred and stored through secure means. Before a visa is issued, biometric information will be checked to ensure that the applicant is eligible for entry to Canada, and is not committing fraud of any kind.

Individuals who require biometrics must pay a fee of $85 CAD, or up to $170 CAD per family.

Who Needs Biometrics?

Individuals from the following countries require biometrics. However, as this initiative is being implemented in stages, the date at which biometrics will be required varies.

Country Effective date
Afghanistan December 11
Albania October 23
Algeria October 23
Bangladesh December 11
Burma (Myanmar) December 11
Cambodia December 11
Colombia September 4
Democratic Republic of Congo October 23
Egypt December 11
Eritrea October 23
Haiti September 4
Iran December 11
Iraq December 11
Jamaica September 4
Jordan December 11
Laos December 11
Lebanon December 11
Libya October 23
Nigeria October 23
Pakistan December 11
Palestinian Authority December 11
Saudi Arabia October 23
Somalia October 23
South Sudan October 23
Sri Lanka December 11
Sudan October 23
Syria December 11
Tunisia October 23
Vietnam December 11
Yemen December 11

A citizen of one of the above countries will be exempt from the biometric requirement if s/he:

  • Is under 14 years old or 80 years old and over;
  • Is a diplomat, consular officer, or representative of
    • A country;
    • The United Nations;
    • An intergovernmental organization that Canada is a member of,

And is travelling to Canada on official business

  • Is applying for a transit visa of less than 48 hours, directly to/from the United States and holds a valid United States entry visa; or
  • Is already in Canada and eligible to apply as a visitor, student, or foreign worker.

What This Means for Applicants

The biometric requirements are intended to make Canada safer for both Canadians and individuals from abroad.

“We long knew that Canada was planning to introduce this new requirement,” said Attorney David Cohen. “While it does create additional work for applicants from designated countries, the government’s ultimate goal is the safety and security of all. If you are planning to enter Canada as a temporary resident, it is now of the utmost importance that you find out if you need to obtain biometrics, and take steps to do so as early as possible.”

Even if an individual is currently residing in a country that requires biometrics (such as the US), s/he will have to submit new biometric data for a Canadian application. Once an individual has received biometrics and been approved for a multiple-entry visa, s/he will not need to provide additional information during his/her stay unless s/he chooses to apply for a study or work permit.

To learn more about securing a biometric work permit, please contact Campbell Cohen today.