In a recent development, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has revised its policy regarding the collection of biometrics for individuals applying for permanent residence.
Effective from June 14, all applicants seeking permanent residency must submit their biometrics, irrespective of whether they had previously provided them for a temporary residence permit.
IRCC Return to Pre-Pandemic Procedures
The updated policy signifies a return to pre-pandemic procedures for permanent resident applications for Canada.
Notably, during the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC introduced a temporary measure in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) that exempted PR applicants from resubmitting biometrics if they had already done so in conjunction with a temporary resident application within the past decade.
Resumption of Regular Processes
In September 2020, IRCC implemented a provision allowing newcomers to apply for permanent residency if they had submitted their biometrics to IRCC within the previous ten years.
This accommodation was made due to the temporary closure of numerous Visa Application Centres (VACs) resulting from pandemic-related restrictions.
With the gradual easing of pandemic restrictions, IRCC has been steadily restoring its pre-pandemic service standards. The backlog of applications has been substantially reduced, enabling the department to operate at full capacity and expedite the processing of applications.
An IRCC official explained in an email to the Canadian Bar Association’s Immigration Section that the reuse of biometrics for permanent resident applications was a temporary measure introduced during the pandemic. Since the pandemic situation has now concluded, IRCC is resuming its regular process, which requires all PR applicants to provide their biometrics, irrespective of the validity of their previous biometric submissions.
Exemptions and Impact
It is important to note that these changes do not apply to individuals applying for temporary resident status on work, visitor, or study visas. Furthermore, those seeking an extension of their temporary residency are not required to resubmit their biometrics.
Understanding Biometrics Requirements
Biometrics, which comprise fingerprints and a facial photograph, are mandatory components of all immigration applications in Canada. The current fee for submitting biometrics is $85 CAD.
These measures are implemented to enhance the safety of Canadians and safeguard the integrity of the immigration system. Biometrics are considered non-invasive for applicants and facilitate easy identification.
It is important to note that, there are a few exemptions to the biometrics requirement.
Nationals from over 60 countries are exempt from obtaining a visa to visit Canada and, therefore, are not obligated to submit biometrics (though all nationalities, except U.S. citizens, require an Electronic Travel Authorization [eTA]).
Additionally, the following categories of applicants are not required to provide biometrics:
- Canadian citizens, citizenship applicants (including passport applicants), or existing permanent residents
- Children under the age of 14
- Applicants over the age of 79 (except for asylum claimants)
- Heads of state, heads of government, cabinet ministers, and accredited diplomats of other countries and the United Nations visiting Canada on official business
- U.S. visa holders transiting through Canada
- Refugee claimants or protected persons who have already submitted biometrics and are applying for a study or work permit
- Temporary resident applicants who have already provided biometrics in support of an ongoing permanent resident application.
These exemptions offer flexibility and streamline the application process for certain individuals while maintaining the necessary security measures.
In conclusion, the updated policy by IRCC mandating the submission of biometrics for permanent resident applicants demonstrates a return to pre-pandemic procedures and signifies the resumption of regular processing standards. By adhering to these requirements, IRCC aims to maintain the integrity of the immigration system and ensure the safety of Canadians.