Two new VACs open in U.S. offering biometrics

Shelby Thevenot
Published: November 23, 2020

U.S. residents now have two new locations to submit biometrics for their Canadian immigration application.

The two new Visa Application Centres (VACs) are now open in Seattle, Washington, and San Francisco, California as of November 23.

The new VACs will only be offering biometric collection services, a media release says. All other VAC services can be accessed through the Los Angeles and New York locations. Applicants can give biometrics at any of these four locations. They can also submit biometrics to the 131 Application Support Centres located in the U.S., as long as they already have their Biometrics Introduction Letter.

The Seattle and San Francisco locations will be open for a period of one year. They have been chosen to make it more convenient for those affected by coronavirus-related service closures. Applicants for Canadian immigration can submit biometrics in support of their new or ongoing applications.

Find out if you’re eligible for Canadian immigration

Who needs to give biometrics?

Canada typically requires foreign nationals to provide their biometrics, or photo and fingerprints, if they are applying for one of the following documents:

  • visitor visas;
  • work or study permits, unless they are U.S. citizens;
  • permanent residence;
  • refugee or asylum status;
  • extensions on legal status, visitor records; or
  • work or study permit extensions.

There are some exemptions. U.S. visa holders transiting through Canada, for example, do not need to give biometrics. Other exemptions include children under age 14, applicants over age 79 and not applying for asylum, heads of government, diplomats, people who already gave biometrics, visa-exempt foreign nationals coming to visit, and Canadians.

People in Canada applying for temporary residence are currently exempt from biometrics, for a limited time. This measure was put in place due to the pandemic. It applies to people who are applying to extend their stay in Canada as a student, worker, or visitor, as well as those who are applying to restore their status. It also covers people who are applying for their permit or visa in Canada.

Biometrics only need to be given once every 10 years. If they were given as part of an application for a Canadian visa or permit within that time frame, they do not need to be provided for a new application.

As part of a temporary COVID-19 measure, permanent residence applicants do not need to give their biometrics again if they have already submitted them within the past 10 years.

However, if these applicants have never given them, or it has been more than 10 years, they must provide them to the closest biometrics collection site that is offering services.

Find out if you’re eligible for Canadian immigration

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