Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has updated its policy regarding collecting biometrics for permanent resident applicants. Starting from June 14, all individuals applying for permanent residence (PR) are now required to submit biometrics, regardless of whether they have previously submitted them for a temporary residence permit.
This policy revision 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). Under this policy, PR applicants were exempt from resubmitting biometrics if they had provided them alongside a temporary resident application within the past 10 years.
However, with the recent update, the exemption is no longer applicable. All PR applicants must ensure they include their biometric information as part of their application, even if they have previously submitted it. This change aims to align the biometrics collection process for permanent residents with the established guidelines and requirements.
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Understanding Biometrics: Definition and Applications
To ensure security and uphold the immigration system’s integrity, IRCC now requires applicants to submit their fingerprints and a facial photograph as part of their initial application for any permit to live, work, or visit Canada. The current biometrics fee stands at $85.
Biometrics facilitate easy identification of applicants while being minimally invasive. While they are mandatory for most immigration applications, there are exemptions. For instance, nationals from over 60 countries exempted from obtaining a visa to visit Canada are not required to submit biometrics (excluding U.S. nationals who still need an eTA).
Furthermore, the following categories of applicants are not obliged to provide biometrics for travel to Canada:
- Canadian citizens, citizenship applicants, or existing permanent residents, including passport applicants.
- Applicants aged 79 or above (except for asylum claimants who don’t have an upper age exemption).
- Children under 14 years of age.
- U.S. visa holders transiting through Canada.
- Temporary resident applicants who have already provided biometrics in support of a pending permanent resident application.
- Heads of state, heads of government, cabinet ministers, accredited diplomats of other countries, and the United Nations visiting Canada for official business.
Refugee claimants or protected persons who have already submitted biometrics and are applying for a study or work permit.
Resumption of Regular Processes
In September 2020, IRCC implemented a temporary measure allowing PR applicants who had previously submitted biometrics within the past decade to proceed with their applications due to pandemic-related restrictions on Visa Application Centres (VACs).
As pandemic restrictions ease, IRCC is transitioning back to pre-pandemic service standards. The backlog of applications has significantly reduced, enabling the department to operate at total capacity and process applications swiftly.
An IRCC official explained that using biometrics for PR applications was a temporary measure in response to the pandemic. Now that the situation has improved, the regular process is being resumed. Therefore, all PR applicants must provide their biometrics, regardless of the validity of their previous submissions.
These changes do not affect individuals applying for temporary resident status on work, visitor, or study visas. Temporary residents seeking extensions are not required to resubmit biometrics.
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