What are biometrics and why do I need to submit them?
Biometrics are the unique physical characteristics of a person that can be used to identify them.
In the context of Canadian immigration, biometrics refers to fingerprints and a photograph, which may be a required submission as part of some immigration pathways to Canada (but more on that later).
Typically, biometrics will be required by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for any visitor visa, study permit, work permit, or permanent residence application.
The process involved with submitting your biometrics is as follows.
First, it is important that individuals required to submit biometrics with their application pay their biometrics fee at the time of application submission to avoid potential processing delays.
After submitting an immigration application and paying the biometrics fee, those required to provide biometrics will receive a confirmation letter from the government that includes information on where to go to submit their fingerprints and photograph.
Individuals must take this letter and a valid passport to their closest biometrics collection site (by appointment only) and provide both pieces at the time of submission.
Submitting fingerprints and a photograph may seem like a tedious way to prove one’s identity, but there are several key reasons why biometrics are a crucial element of the Canadian immigration process.
Why are biometrics important?
Biometrics are vital to being able to confirm one’s identity. Although this may not seem like an important measure now, the Canadian government advises that biometrics help Canadian immigrants stay safe in several ways.
For instance, having biometrics on file makes it harder for people to commit identity theft by forging, stealing, or using your identity.
Additionally, biometrics make it easier to resolve problems or errors that may happen if a person’s name, birthdate and/or place of birth are like those of someone else.
Finally, from an immigration perspective, should an individual ever need to apply for another program or re-enter Canada after departure, biometrics helps with quickly confirming that person’s identity.
Which programs require candidates to submit their biometrics?
Now that the importance of biometrics is clear, let us return to an earlier conversation surrounding what Canadian immigration programs require a biometrics submission and which programs do not require it.
Whether or not you will be required to submit your fingerprints and a photograph will depend on the country you are applying for immigration from, the type of visa or status you are applying for, and a variety of other factors including whether you have previously submitted biometrics.
The Government of Canada provides a biometrics tool that allows Canadian immigration hopefuls to find out if they need to submit biometrics along with their application by answering a few simple questions.
Where can I submit my biometrics?
After you find out if you need to submit your biometrics and pay your biometrics fee alongside your submitted immigration application, the Canadian government will send you a confirmation letter that includes information on where to go to submit your biometrics.
The government also provides an online list of biometrics collection sites to make it easy to locate the closest submission location based on an individual’s country and city.
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