Earlier this year, the Government of Canada announced plans to expand its biometrics program. Now, anyone who applies for a visitor visa, work permit, study permit, permanent residence, or refugee or asylum status must submit fingerprints and photographs with their documents. The initial announcement for the biometrics program stated that changes would be implemented in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa before other regions. After successful implementation of the biometrics expansion program in these areas, the program is now reaching other regions such as Asia, Asia Pacific, and the Americas.
As such, the Government of Canada is now expanding its worldwide network of Visa Application Centres (VACs) to make services more accessible. New VACs are now open in:
Asia Pacific: Bali, Indonesia; Melbourne, Australia;
Americas: Menodza, Argentina; Porto Alegre and Recife, Brazil; Cali, Colombia; Santiago, Chile; and Bridgetown, Barbados;
Europe: Lyon, France; and Vienna, Austria
“Biometrics are recognized as one of the most reliable ways to identify people and are used by more than 70 countries for immigration screening. As we prepare to roll out the next phase of biometrics expansion, which will affect our largest volume of applicants, we will continue to work closely with other governments, partners and stakeholders to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.”
– The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
By December 31st, 2018, there will be 152 VACs in 103 countries;
The Government of Canada will monitor the impact of the biometrics collection requirement to ensure services are available to those applicants who need it;
What are Visa Application Centres?
A VAC is a privately owned, third party service that is authorized to provide IRCC visa applicants with administrative support. Agents can support applicants before, during, and after their application while they wait for their application to be assessed by an IRCC officer. They are also authorized to collect biometrics. Clients located in regions where new VACs have opened must make an appointment to give their biometrics. This will allow applicants to select a convenient time and reduce waiting times at the VAC.
Is everyone required to give biometrics?
As previously stated, most applicants are required to give their biometrics, however, some parties are exempt from the biometrics program expansion. Those who are excluded include:
Canadian citizens, citizenship applicants (including passport applicants), or existing permanent residents
Visa-exempt nationals coming to Canada as tourists;
Persons under 14 years old and over 79 years old (there is no upper age exemption for asylum claimants);
U.S. nationals making an application for a work, study or temporary resident permit;
Cabinet ministers and accredited diplomats of other countries and the United Nations, coming to Canada on official business; and
Heads of state and Heads of Government, regardless of purpose of travel.
To read more about the Biometrics Program, check out our other blogs on the topic:
Links to relevant blog posts:
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