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Biometrics Requirements for Immigration in Canada – Cougar Immigration

Biometrics Requirements for Immigration in Canada:

Fingerprint & Photo

Canada’s expanded biometrics requirements mean everyone interested in applying for a visitor visa, work or study permit, a permanent residence visa or claiming refugee/asylum status will need to review whether or not they are required to submit biometrics (fingerprints and a photo).

The collection of biometrics identification (fingerprints and a facial recognition photo) is considered an efficient tool for correctly identifying individuals. Biometrics collection enables the Government of Canada to facilitate application processing and simplify entry into Canada for low-risk travelers. 

The biometrics requirements take effect as follows for citizens from non-exempt countries:

  • Starting July 31, 2018 – applicants from Europe, Middle East, and Africa
  • Starting December 31, 2018 – applicants from Asia, Asia Pacific, and the Americas

This page will cover details on Canada’s biometrics program and includes a brief FAQ section related to the biometrics visa requirement. 

Biometrics Collection at Visa Application Centres

Individuals submitting an application outside Canada for the first time will need to submit their biometrics at a Government of Canada-authorized Visa Application Centre (VAC). 

The Government of Canada says it will be expanding its worldwide network of VACs to accommodate the biometrics program. 

Visa-exempt Visitors to Canada

Travelers from visa-exempt countries who are coming to Canada as tourists with a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) will not be required to provide biometrics. 

Biometrics for Permanent Residence Applications 

The says anyone applying for permanent residence will need to give their biometrics and pay the fee regardless of whether they have provided biometrics in the past to support a visitor visa, study or work permit application or a different application for permanent residence.

Biometrics Requirements for Immigration in Canada

Reducing Application Delays

The Government of Canada provides the following advice for reducing application delays:

  • Do not mail in your application. Either apply online or in-person at a Visa Application Centre.
  • Pay both the application fee and the biometrics fee when you submit your application.
  • Give your biometrics at the same time as you apply at a Visa Application Centre, or within a few days of getting your Biometric Instruction Letter.
  • Consider travel time when planning if you need to travel to visit a VAC or Application Support Center (ASC, if applying from the United States) to provide your biometrics.
  • If you can, make sure all family members who are applying for a visa go to the same VAC or ASC at the same time to give biometrics.
  • If you have a temporary injury or decoration (such as henna) on your face or hands, wait until the injury has healed or the decoration has faded completely before you give your biometrics.
    • A temporary injury or medical condition is one that will likely heal or improve over time, and can include:
      • bandaged face or fingers due to minor cuts or burns,
      • rashes and other temporary skin conditions.
  • If you have a permanent injury or condition on your face or hands, go to a VAC or ASC to have your photograph and any available fingerprints taken. A permanent injury or medical condition is one that will not heal or improve over time. Bring any documentation you have about your condition.
  • If you are about to reach your 80th birthday, please note that VACs cannot collect biometrics from applicants 80 years of age and over. If you are 79 years old when you submit your application, but you turn 80 years old before you give your biometrics, you must contact your Canadian visa office to make arrangements to have your biometrics collected there. If you are in the United States, you can still give your biometrics at the nearest US Application Support Centre

Applicants with Multiple Citizenships

Applicants with multiple citizenship must use the same travel document (e.g. passport) for the entire application process. This same document should be used when giving biometrics at a Visa Application Centre or at an Application Support Centre (ASC) if you applying from the United States.

Applicants who have already submitted an application and would like to change the nationality on that application must withdraw the application. To do this, contact the visa office responsible for your country or territory, After doing this, such applicants may submit a new application and pay the applicable fees. Visit the biometrics processing fees page for more details.


In-person applications will be available at specified Service Canada locations starting in 2019. Until then, the Government of Canada says individuals applying for a visa, study or work permit or permanent residence in Canada are exempt from the biometrics requirement.

Applicants in the following categories are not required to give biometrics to visit Canada:

  • Canadian citizens, citizenship applicants (including passport applicants), or existing permanent residents;
  • visa-exempt nationals coming to Canada as tourists who hold a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA);
  • 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.

Canada Biometrics Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often do applicants need to give biometrics (fingerprints and a photo)?

You only need to give your biometrics once every 10 years. You don’t need to give your biometrics until the 10-year period expires.

How much does it cost to submit biometrics?

The Government of Canada applies an additional fee for biometrics screening and processing, which depends on whether applicants are applying as individuals, with family members or as a group.

I have privacy concerns. Will my biometrics information be secure?

The Government of Canada says fingerprints are encrypted and sent electronically through a secure internal system to the Canadian Immigration Biometrics Identification System. Once data is successfully sent to the system, personal information is deleted from the database.

If I am already inside Canada, will I need to give my biometrics?

The Government of Canada says biometrics will not be required from an individual applying for a visa, study permit or work permit from inside Canada until service points are established, likely in 2019.

Will I need to submit my fingerprints and photograph in person each time I apply?

Yes, the Government of Canada asks that applicants give their biometrics to help visa officer verify the identity of applicants. Those approved for a multiple-entry visa will only be required to submit their biometrics once at initial application submission and if an application is made after the 10-year validity period.

Do I need to submit my biometrics if I already have a valid Canadian visitor visa?

No. Individuals holding a valid visitor visa will not be required to give their biometrics until the next time they apply.

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