Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has suspended the collection of the biometrics requirement for applicants already in Canada.
The Government of Canada’s immigration agency announced that applicants already in Canada who are applying for, extending or restoring Visitor Visas, Student Visas and Work Permits are not required to submit the requirement.
This new policy will be applied to all new applications, including those that are currently being processed.
Take note that applications made outside of Canada will still be required to submit the requirement.
IRCC has made many changes to the way applications are handled in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Applicants had to submit the requirement at Service Canada offices, many of which were closed during the start of the pandemic.
With many applicants unable to submit the requirement, IRCC has decided to suspend it indefinitely.
Applicants who are waiting for a decision from IRCC can stay in Canada under implied status until a decision on their case has been made.
Applicants who may have already received instructions from IRCC will no longer be required to pay for the biometrics fee. Those who have already paid the fee will be refunded after their application has been processed by IRCC.
WHAT ARE BIOMETRICS?
Most travellers to Canada who want to visit, study, work or immigrate have to submit biometrics as part of their application.
The requirement came into effect on July 31, 2018, when fingerprints and photos became mandatory for individuals travelling from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The requirement do not apply to Canadian citizens. Biometrics is used to identify applicants and makes applying for an appropriate visa to enter Canada easier and faster.
Biometrics are a mandatory requirement for those travelling from Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas as well.
If you are a traveller from a country that does not require a visa in order to travel to Canada, you will not be required to provide this information.
Unfortunately, the Philippines is not one of these exempt countries.
Filipinos from 14 years old to 79 years old must provide biometric information as part of the application process.
Filipinos who might be applying for asylum must provide biometric information, no matter what their age.
HOW MUCH IS THE BIOMETRIC FEE?
The Government of Canada charges CAD$85 for individuals and CAD$170 for families.
HOW BIOMETRICS WORKS
Biometric information is when you apply for a visa and at the point of entry into Canada.
Biometrics is used to confirm the individual’s identity, allowing visa officers from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to conduct screening and to see if individuals have any past criminal convictions or immigration violations.
Airports in Canada have self-serve Primary Inspection Kiosks that will allow individuals to verify their fingerprints, confirm their photos and make electronic declarations.
Visa officers will verify fingerprint information at other ports of entry on a discretionary basis.
WHERE CAN I PROVIDE MY BIOMETRICS IN THE PHILIPPINES?
In the Philippines, you can provide your biometric information at the Visa Application Centre (VAC), VFS Global.
WHERE CAN I PROVIDE BIOMETRICS IN CANADA?
Before the pandemic, applications made in Canada, were submitted at select Service Canada locations.
IRCC has suspended the requirement for applications made in Canada.
International Students and Temporary Foreign Workers can still provide their biometrics at ports of entry when they arrive in Canada.
FOR HOW LONG ARE MY BIOMETRICS VALID?
Any biometric information you provided is valid for 10 years. If your application was refused, any additional applications will require you to resubmit a new set of biometrics.
When applying for Permanent Residency, you will need to submit new biometrics, whether or not you have already submitted biometrics previously as a visitor or foreign worker.
IS MY INFORMATION SECURE?
The Canadian Immigration Biometrics Identification System is encrypted, with all biometric information kept secure after transmission from the point of collection.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) checks fingerprints of individuals who have might a criminal record, as well as those who are applying as refugees. Individuals who have been issued a removal order and all temporary resident applicants are also checked.
If matches are found, the RCMP will advise the visa officer who will make the final decision on the application.
CANADA SHARES INFORMATION WITH OTHER COUNTRIES
Biometric information gathered by IRCC is shared with counterpart immigration agencies from the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
HOW LONG IS THE INFORMATION KEPT?
IRCC retains biometric information for 15 years, or until the applicant becomes a Canadian citizen, whichever comes first.
ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS TO THE REQUIREMENT?
Canadian Citizens, Permanent Residents, individuals from countries that have visa agreements with Canada, children under 14 years, and adults over 79 years old (except for asylum claimants) are exempt from the requirement.
Diplomatic representatives, US visa holders transiting through Canada, refugee claimants and protected persons who have previously provided biometric information and are applying for a Study Permit or a Work Permit, or applicants who have already submitted biometric information as part of an application for permanent residency are all exempted from submitting biometric information.
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