The Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has revised its policy regarding the collection of biometrics for applicants seeking Canadian permanent residence.
This policy update signifies a return to the pre-pandemic procedures for permanent resident applications. During the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC implemented a temporary policy in the Global Case Management System (GCMS), which exempted PR applicants from resubmitting biometrics if they had already done so in conjunction with a temporary resident application within the past 10 years.
Regular process resuming post-pandemic
The resumption of regular processes follows the post-pandemic period, during which IRCC introduced measures to accommodate newcomers in applying for PR if they had previously provided their biometrics to IRCC within the last decade. This adjustment was made due to pandemic-related restrictions, which resulted in temporary closures of many Visa Application Centres (VACs).
Recognizing that many PR applicants had prior or current temporary resident status in Canada, IRCC acknowledged that requiring biometrics posed obstacles to the progress of their applications.
As pandemic restrictions gradually eased, IRCC has been working towards reinstating pre-pandemic service standards. The backlog of applications, a major hindrance, has been significantly reduced, enabling the department to operate at full capacity and process applications efficiently.
An IRCC official, in an email to the Canadian Bar Association’s Immigration Section, clarified, “The reuse of biometrics for a PR application was a temporary measure implemented during the pandemic. Since the pandemic situation has concluded, we are returning to our regular process, which mandates applicants to provide biometrics in support of any PR applications, regardless of the validity of previous biometrics.”
It’s important to note that these changes do not affect individuals applying for temporary resident status on work, visitor, or study visas. Temporary residents seeking an extension are not required to resubmit biometrics.
What are biometrics?
IRCC mandates that applicants include their fingerprints and a facial photograph as part of their initial application for any type of permit to live, work, or visit Canada. Currently, the fee for submitting biometrics is $85 CAD.
Biometrics play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of Canadians and safeguarding the integrity of the immigration system. While being non-intrusive for applicants, they facilitate easy identification. Biometrics are a mandatory requirement for all immigration applications, although there are certain exemptions in place.
For instance, citizens of more than 60 countries are exempted from obtaining a visa to visit Canada, thus not necessitating the submission of biometrics (though all nationalities, except U.S. nationals, require an eTA).
Additionally, the following categories of applicants are exempt from providing biometrics for traveling to Canada:
Canadian citizens, including those applying for citizenship or passports, and current permanent residents.
Children below the age of 14.
Applicants aged 79 or older (excluding asylum claimants, who have no upper age exemption).
Heads of state, heads of government, cabinet ministers, and accredited diplomats from other countries and the United Nations visiting Canada for official purposes.
Holders of U.S. visas 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 submitted biometrics in support of an ongoing permanent resident application.