All Canadian permanent residence applicants must now submit biometrics

Edana Robitaille
Published: June 20, 2023

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has updated its policy regarding the collection of biometrics for permanent resident applicants.

As of June 14, anyone applying for permanent residence (PR) must submit biometrics, regardless of if they have previously submitted them for a temporary residence permit.

The update to the published policy means that IRCC is returning to pre-pandemic procedures for permanent resident applications. Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC enacted a policy in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) that made it unnecessary for PR applicants to resubmit biometrics if they had submitted them alongside a temporary resident application within the previous 10 years.

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Regular process resuming post-pandemic

In September 2020, IRCC made it possible for newcomers to apply for PR if they had submitted their biometrics to IRCC within the past decade. This measure was in response to pandemic restrictions that saw many Visa Application Centres (VACs) forced to close temporarily.

At the time, IRCC recognized that many PR applicants already had, or previously had, status as a temporary resident in Canada and that requiring biometrics made it impossible for applicants to move forward.

Since pandemic restrictions began to ease, IRCC has been moving towards resuming pre-pandemic service standards. One of the biggest blocks, the backlog of applications, is now significantly reduced and the department is back to working at full capacity and able to process applications quickly.

In an email to the Canadian Bar Association’s Immigration Section, an IRCC official explained “The reuse of biometrics for a PR application was a temporary measure introduced in a pandemic situation. Since the pandemic situation is now over, we are resuming our regular process which requires applicants to provide their biometrics in support of any PR applications being made, regardless of previous biometrics being valid.”

The changes do not apply to those applying for temporary resident status on a work, visitor or study visa. Temporary residents who are applying for an extension do not need to resubmit biometrics.

What are biometrics?

IRCC requires applicants to submit their fingerprints and a photograph of their face as part of their initial application for any type of permit to live, work or visit Canada. The current fee to submit biometrics is $85 CAD.

Biometrics are used to help keep Canadians safe and protect the integrity of the immigration system. It is considered non-invasive for applicants while making them easy to identify. They are a mandatory part of all immigration applications, although there are some exemptions.

For example, nationals from over 60 countries are exempt from obtaining a visa to visit Canada and therefore are not required to submit biometrics (although all nationalities require an eTA except U.S. nationals).

Additionally, applicants in the following categories are not required to give biometrics to travel to Canada:

  • Canadian citizens, citizenship applicants (including passport applicants), or existing permanent residents;
  • Children under the age of 14;
  • Applicants over the age of 79 (there is no upper age exemption for asylum claimants);
  • Heads of state and heads of government;
  • Cabinet ministers and accredited diplomats of other countries and the United Nations, coming to Canada on official business;
  • U.S. visa holders transiting through Canada;
  • Refugee claimants or protected persons who have already provided biometrics and are applying for a study or work permit;
  • Temporary resident applicants who have already provided biometrics in support of a permanent resident application that is still in progress.

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