All Canadian permanent residence applicants are now required to submit biometrics

Posted on June 20, 2023 at 09:00 am EDT

All applicants for permanent residence are now required to submit biometric data.

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has updated its policy regarding the collection of biometrics for applicants for permanent residence.

As of June 14, anyone applying for permanent residency (PR) will be required to submit biometric data, regardless of whether they have previously submitted them for a temporary residence permit.

The published policy update means IRCC is reverting to pre-pandemic procedures for permanent residency applications. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC promulgated a policy on the Global Case Management System (GCMS) that made it unnecessary for PR applicants to resubmit biometric data if they had submitted it along with a temporary residence application within the previous 10 years.

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Resumption of the regular post-pandemic process

In September 2020, IRCC made it possible for newcomers to apply for PR if they had submitted their biometrics to IRCC in the last decade. This move was in response to pandemic restrictions forcing many Visa Application Centers (VACs) to close temporarily.

At the time, IRCC recognized that many PR applicants already held, or had previously held, temporary resident status in Canada and that requiring biometrics made it impossible for applicants to advance.

Since the pandemic restrictions began to ease, IRCC has been moving towards resuming pre-pandemic service standards. One of the biggest blocks, the application backlog, has now been significantly reduced and the department is back to working at full capacity and can process applications quickly.

In an email to the Immigration Section of the Canadian Bar Association, an IRCC official explained: “The reuse of biometric data for a public relations request was a temporary measure introduced in a pandemic situation. With the pandemic situation now over, we are resuming our regular process that requires applicants to provide their biometrics to support any PR request that is made, regardless of whether the previous biometrics are valid.”

The changes do not apply to those applying for temporary resident status on a work, visitor or study visa. Temporary residents who request an extension do not need to resubmit biometrics.

What is biometric data?

IRCC requires applicants to submit their fingerprints and a photograph of their face as part of their initial application for any type of permit to live, work or visit Canada. The current fee to submit biometrics is $85 CAD.

Biometrics are used to help keep Canadians safe and protect the integrity of the immigration system. It is considered non-invasive to applicants and makes them easy to identify. They are a required part of all immigration applications, although there are some exceptions.

For example, citizens of more than 60 countries are exempt from obtaining a visa to visit Canada and therefore are not required to submit biometrics (although all nationalities require an eTA except US citizens).

Additionally, applicants in the following categories are not required to provide biometrics to travel to Canada:

  • Canadian citizens, citizenship applicants (including passport applicants) or existing permanent residents;
  • Children under 14 years of age;
  • Applicants older than 79 years (there is no exemption of higher age for asylum applicants);
  • heads of state and heads of government;
  • Cabinet ministers and accredited diplomats from other countries and from the United Nations, coming to Canada on official business;
  • US visa holders in transit through Canada;
  • Refugee claimants or protected persons who have already provided biometric data and are applying for a study or work permit;
  • Temporary residence applicants who have already provided biometrics in support of a permanent residence application that is still in process.

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