Introduction

Just a few months ago, the Government of Canada announced that requirements relating to the collection of biometric data from certain foreign nationals seeking visas to enter Canada would come into force in the near future.

Accordingly, by the end of 2013, the citizens of some thirty countries will have to provide their biometrics if they wish to obtain a Canadian visitor visa, study permit or work permit.

What biometrics will be collected?

The biometrics that will be collected are fingerprints and a digital photograph.

Why does this data need to be collected?

The purpose of the biometrics collection procedure is to allow Canada’s visa officers to confirm the identity of the applicants. It will make it harder for individuals wishing to falsify their identity or steal or use someone else’s identity and will resolve the problems that can arise when two people have similar names, birthdates or birthplaces. It will also allow an individual’s identity to be confirmed the next time he or she applies for entry into Canada.

The procedure

Citizens of the countries concerned will have to present themselves in person at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) to give their biometrics.

The data will then be conveyed electronically to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), which will analyze it. Where the RCMP does not find any negative information about the applicant, it will notify the officer in charge of the application and the application will follow its course.

Who and when?

Implementation of the new standards has already begun in certain countries, while for others, they will become effective a little later this year. By 2014, more than one hundred and thirty (130) VACs throughout the world will be ready to collect biometrics from the various applicants.

Here is a table of the effective dates announced by Citizenship and Immigration Canada:

Click here to view image.

Are there any exemptions?

Citizens of one of the above countries or territory will not be required to give their biometrics if they are:

  • Under 14 years old or 80 years old and over;
  • A diplomat, consular officer, representative or official of a country, the United Nations or any of its agencies or any intergovernmental organization that Canada is a member of;
  • Applying for a visa to transit through Canada for less than 48 hours, directly to or from the United States and hold a valid United States entry visa, or
  • Already in Canada and eligible to apply to an office in Canada.

Conclusion

Since the biometrics requirements are being implemented gradually, all the ins and out of the new procedures are still unknown. So it will be interesting to see how the Government’s policies and standards evolve in this connection, more specifically in relation to the opening and start-up of the various Visa Application Centres.