January 03, 2013

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has recently announced that beginning in September 2013, applicants of certain nationalities will be required to submit biometric data for all visa applications in Canada’s temporary residence visa stream.

What’s Changed?

The CIC, in cooperation with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), confirmed that citizens of 29 nationalities and one territory will be required to submit their fingerprints and a digital photograph at Visa Application Centers (VACs) throughout the world. Canadian authorities are currently in the process of opening several new VACs throughout the world to handle the increased volume in applications.

Applicants will need to submit biometrics for all work, study, and visit visa applications; however, applicants under the age of 14 and over the age of 79 will not be required to undergo biometric screening.

This new requirement will be applicable for the following nationalities:

  • Afghanistan
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Bangladesh
  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • Cambodia
  • Colombia
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Egypt
  • Eritrea
  • Haiti
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan
  • Laos
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Palestinian Authority
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • South Sudan
  • Syria
  • Tunisia
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen

The CIC has confirmed that these new requirements come as part of Canada’s efforts to decrease identity fraud and security risks in the visa application process itself, as well as at Canadian port of entries. More specifically, this biometric data will be used both by CIC and RCMP immigration authorities during the adjudication of visa applications, as well as by CSBA authorities at Canadian port of entries to confirm the identity of the traveler.

Biometrics Submission Process

For those citizens affected by these new requirements, submission of their fingerprints and digital photograph will occur at the outset of the visa application process per the following steps:

  • Step 1 – Applicants submit their fingerprints and photograph at a local Canadian VAC or visa office in their country of residence;
  • Step 2 – Encrypted biometric data transmitted electronically to immigration authorities and stored in CIC’s case-processing system;
  • Step 3 – The RCMP in Canada will check applicant’s fingerprints against domestic and international databases;
  • Step 4 – If the RCMP cannot find any adverse information from the fingerprint check, the applicant’s visa application process may proceed; and
  • Step 5 – Upon arrival at a Canadian Port of Entry, the CSBA authorities will verify that the traveler is the same individual for whom the visa was issued using both the photograph, and fingerprint data if needed.

Kindly note that the above are only general guidelines and may be subject to changes as the Canadian authorities announce further details in early 2013 of the biometric requirement implementation.


Companies should note those nationalities that will be affected by these new changes, as well as the probability for increased processing times while the authorities implement and streamline the new requirement procedures.

In addition, as the Canadian authorities have yet to confirm many specifics of this new requirement at the time of this writing, companies should note that further updates will be made available throughout the first half of 2013.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by SooHyung Smit, Coordinator, Knowledge Management.