December 27, 2019

Foreign Nationals May Now Have Biometrics Collected From Within Canada

Posted by Athena Portokalidis - Bellissimo Law Group PC

As of 3 December 2019, individuals are now able to have their biometrics collected from within Canada, at any of the 58 designated Service Canada Centres across the country.[1] Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has been collecting biometrics from most foreign nationals applying for temporary residence status in Canada since December 2018, but until earlier this month, applicants were only able to visit a Visa Application Centre outside of Canada to have their Biometrics collected.[2] This change means it will be easier for individuals applying for both temporary and permanent status in Canada to comply with the biometrics collection requirement. Even applicants who are physically located within Canada but have their applications processed overseas may have their biometrics collected from within Canada.[3]

The Biometrics Collection requirement has also been expanded to include applicants applying from within Canada as well; before 3 December 2019, these applicants were not required to have Biometrics collected.[4] Additionally, applicants who were physically located within Canada but had their applications processed overseas were often forced to travel outside of Canada to comply with the biometrics collection requirement. Thankfully, with the expansion noted above, this will no longer be an issue.

Biometrics collection, or biographic data (name, date of birth, etc.), having fingerprints and photographs taken, is generally required for foreign nationals applying to Canada as: foreign workers (for initial work permits or extending work permits), international students (initial study permits or extending study permits), visitors (including applications to extend stay as a visitor), permanent residents, and refugees or asylees.[5] This is usually only required once every 10 years, unless applying for permanent residence.[6]

IRCC uses biometrics to establish the identity of applicants and combat fraud.[7] When an individual who has applied for status in Canada arrives in Canada after their application is approved, their fingerprints and information will be cross-checked with those provided during biometrics collection to verify identity.[8]

Overall, this welcomed change by IRCC will make it much easier, more cost-effective, and efficient for individuals to comply with the biometrics collection requirement, and will simplify the process for applicants located within Canada.