What are Biometrics and Do I need to Provide Them?

Biometrics are the use of fingerprints and photographs to confirm identity and admissibility. Currently biometrics are collected from applicants from 30 countries. Beginning in July 2018, IRCC is expanding their collection of biometrics to include most visitor visa, study permit, work permit, and permanent residence applicants between the ages of 14 and 79. Once completed, the biometrics will be good for a period of 10 years. There will be an $85 biometric collection fee that can be paid at the time of application or online in combination with regular application fees. 

Visa exempt foreign nationals with an eTA who are coming to visit Canada as a tourist (applying for visitor status (personal or business) will not need to provide biometrics. 

U.S. Nationals will only need to provide biometrics when applying for permanent residence. 

Most applicants will provide biometrics in advance of their travel to Canada. Upon collection, biometrics will be used to verify an applicant’s identity and will then be transmitted to the RCMP for storage and searching against fingerprint records of known offenders, past refugee claimants, persons who were previously deported and previous immigration applicants. Fingerprints will also be automatically checked against the United States immigration fingerprints repository.

Biometrics can be done at one of the VACs worldwide: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/contact-ircc/offices/find-visa-application-centre.html 

Depending on their port of arrival, Visa exempt foreign nationals may have the option of providing their biometrics at the port of entry upon arrival. Please note that the service standard to obtain biometrics at the airport is anticipated to be 2 hours. Travel should be planned accordingly. 

IRCC also has planned for the eventual collection of biometrics at locations in Canada in 2019. These locations and the proposed roll out for these locations has not yet been determined.

Protected persons and Convention refugees who make an application for permanent residence from within Canada would be required to re-enrol their biometric information at a service location in Canada.

If fingerprint collection is not feasible such as for reasons owing to age or degradation, there may be the possibility for an exemption and for the applicant to obtain a Temporary Resident Permit.

Proposed Implementation Dates

As of July 2018, foreign nationals from Europe, Africa and the Middle East will be required to provide biometrics.

As of November 2018, foreign nationals from North Asia, South Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas will have to provide biometrics.

As of December 2018, foreign nationals from Asia (including China and India) and the Americas will be required to provide biometrics.

As of February 2019, in-Canada applicants will have to provide biometrics. 


Biometrics will be valid for a period of 10 years and will only need to be provided one time every 10 years. Applicants would need to have valid biometrics for the duration of their proposed stay in Canada. If an applicant’s visa will be limited by their biometric expiry date, they can voluntarily provide new biometrics early.


There will be a biometric collection fee of $85. However, a maximum fee of $170 would apply if an applicant and their family members make their applications or requests at the same time. Furthermore, a maximum fee of $255 would apply for three or more persons who form part of the same group of performing artists, or that group’s staff, when applying for a work permit at the same time.

Certain persons will be exempted from the biometric fee requirement, including:

  • a transit traveller who receives a temporary resident permit in Canada due to circumstances deemed to be beyond their control, at the discretion of an officer;
  • a person who is a member of the protected temporary residents class and their family members who are included in the application;
  • a permanent resident who is 14 years of age or older when applying for a new permanent resident card, and who was exempt from the biometrics collection requirement at the time they applied for permanent residence because they were under the age of 14;
  • a person applying for or requesting a temporary resident visa, status or permit who previously (i.e. within the last 10 years) received a temporary partial exemption due to impossible or not feasible circumstances;
  • a person who made a claim for refugee protection outside Canada and their family members;
  • a protected person in Canada, when they make an application for permanent residence; and
  • a person who made a claim for refugee protection in Canada.

The biometrics fee exemptions would also align with existing application fee exemptions in the IRPR for the following individuals who make an application for a temporary resident visa, work or study permit:

  • a person who is a member of the clergy, a member of a religious order or a lay person who is to assist a congregation or a group in the achievement of its spiritual goals, if the duties to be performed by the person are to consist mainly of spiritual counselling, preaching doctrine or presiding at liturgical functions, and their family members;
  • a person seeking to work in Canada whose work is for a Canadian religious or charitable organization;
  • a person who is temporarily destitute, as described in paragraph 208(a) of the IRPR;
  • a person whose work is related to a research program, as designated under subparagraph 205(c)(i) of the IRPR;
  • a person whose work in Canada is under an agreement for reciprocal employment opportunities of an artistic, cultural or educational nature;
  • a person whose study in Canada is under an agreement or arrangement between Canada and another country that provides for reciprocity or student exchange; and
  • a person who, while they are in transit to Canada, ceases to be exempt under paragraph 190(1)(a) from the requirement for a temporary resident visa, if, during the first 48 hours after they cease to be exempt from that requirement, they seek to enter and remain in Canada and are inadmissible to Canada for the sole reason that they do not have a temporary resident visa.

Biometric Exemptions

The following persons will not be required to provide their biometric information:

  • Applicants under the age of 14 or over the age of 79
  • Nationals of the United States who apply for a work or study permit, or who make a request for a temporary resident permit;
  • Foreign nationals seeking to enter or remain in Canada as a visitor and who are exempt from the requirement of a visa (i.e. ETA visitors);
  • A holder of a valid United States entry visa who is destined to or returning from that country, who is seeking to enter Canada for a period of less than 48 hours and who is travelling by transporter’s vehicle to a destination other than Canada, or is transiting through or stopping over in Canada for refuelling or for the continuation of their journey in another transporter’s vehicle (existing exemption under the TRBP);
  • A person who makes an application for a study permit or a work permit and is a person in Canada who has made a claim for refugee protection that has not yet been determined by the refugee protection division, a person in Canada on whom refugee protection has been conferred, or a person who is a member of the convention refugees abroad class or a member of a humanitarian-protected persons abroad class (existing exemption under the TRBP);
  • Persons who are a head of state or government applying for or requesting a temporary resident visa, status or permit; and
  • Persons who are seeking to enter Canada in the course of official duties as a properly accredited diplomat, consular officer, representative or official of a country other than Canada, of the United Nations or any of its agencies or of any intergovernmental organization of which Canada is a member, or is a family member of one of them (existing exemption under the TRBP).

More information on the IRCC Biometric Requirements can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/campaigns/biometrics.html 

The lawyers of Capelle Kane are well versed in the latest changes to the Canadian immigration programs. Please contact us for a consultation if you wish to discuss your eligibility or to obtain more information about moving to Canada.