Foreign nationals now need biometrics to apply for permanent residence from within Canada

Shelby Thevenot
Published: December 3, 2019

Service centres across Canada are now open to take biometrics for foreign nationals applying to stay in the country.

Prior to December 3, only immigration candidates applying from outside of Canada had to submit their fingerprints and photo.

Unless they are exempt, biometrics are now required for those who are applying from within Canada for:

  • a work permit (including extensions)
  • a study permit (including extensions)
  • a visitor visa (including extensions)
  • permanent residence

Biometrics must also be submitted if the application is for extending a permit or visa in Canada and the applicant does not have biometrics that are still valid. To check the status of their biometrics, they can do so here.

The list of 58 designated service centres in Canada is available on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)'s website

In a statement, Canada's new Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marco Mendicino, said the expanded biometrics program "will enhance the efficiency and integrity" of Canada's immigration system.

"Fingerprints and photo collection are recognized as one of the most reliable ways to identify people and are used by more than 70 countries worldwide," he said.

Who needs to give biometrics?

Canada has collected biometrics on most foreign nationals applying for temporary or permanent residence since December 31, 2018.

IRCC provides an online tool where users fill out a questionnaire to determine if they need to give their biometrics for an application. 

Those between age 14 and 79 years old need to give fingerprints and photos for all permanent resident applications in the family class, economic class, and refugee class.

This applies even to those who gave their biometrics in the past in order to support a visitor visa, study or work permit application, or a different permanent resident application.

Canadian citizens and existing permanent residents do not need to give their biometrics.

Order of operations

Those who have to give biometrics must book an appointment in advance to provide their fingerprints and have their photo taken. 

They will then get a biometric instruction letter (BIL), which will provide a list of biometric collection service points to choose from.

It is required to bring the BIL to the service point in person within 30 days in order for the biometrics to be processed. 

Applicants, including those in Canada who will be travelling outside the country, can also give their biometrics at a visa application centre (VAC) in any country that they are legally allowed to enter.

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

© 2019 CIC News All Rights Reserved

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