Canada: Biometrics Program Details Released

The Canadian government published the anticipated implementation date and process details of the previously-proposed biometrics program, following the end of the public consultation period. The program will go into effect for all applicants from Europe, the Middle East and Africa by July 31, 2018, and for all applicants from Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas by December 31, 2018.

May 17, 2018

The situation

The Canadian government published the anticipated implementation date and process details of the previously-proposed biometrics program, following the end of the public consultation period. Key details of the program, most of which were known at the time of the proposal, are highlighted below.

A closer look

  • Eligibility. The eligibility requirements were published as proposed.


  • Exemptions. The following foreign nationals will not be required to submit biometrics:
    • Canadian citizens, citizenship applicants (including passport applicants), or existing permanent residents;
    • Visa-exempt nationals entering Canada as tourists who hold a valid electronic travel authorization;
    • Children under the age of 14;
    • Applicants over the age of 79 (there is no upper age exemption for asylum claimants);
    • Heads of state and heads of government;
    • Cabinet ministers and accredited diplomats of other countries and the United Nations, entering Canada on official business;
    • U.S. visa holders transiting through Canada;
    • Refugee claimants or protected persons who have already provided biometrics and are applying for a study or work permit; and
    • Temporary resident applicants who have already provided biometrics in support of a permanent resident application that is still in progress


  • Implementation by nationality. The implementation by nationality requirements were published as proposed.  


  • Biometrics process
    • Visa nationals. The newly-released details confirm that once a visa national submits their visa application, the Canadian government will send a letter stating that the applicant must appear at an official biometrics collection service location. These locations include Application Support Centers across the United States and Visa Application Centres (VACs) around the world. Foreign nationals applying at VACs must schedule an appointment.
    • Visa-exempt nationals. It is expected that visa-exempt work or study permit applicants and asylum claimants will need to submit their biometrics at a Canadian port of entry. The government is expected to publish further information on its website about the process for visa-exempt nationals.


  • Temporary exemption. Foreign nationals applying for a visa, study or work permit or permanent residence from inside Canada will be exempt from the biometrics requirement until service centers are established in Canada in 2019.


  • Arrival in Canada. Upon arrival in Canada, immigration officials will check the foreign national’s identity documents, including fingerprint records. This will be an automatic process at eight major Canadian airports.



This is a very broad-based change affecting visa and visa-exempt nationals’ entry to Canada. The impacts stated in the last alert still apply.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to


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Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates, (collectively known as “Fragomen Worldwide”) is the world’s largest firm dedicated to corporate immigration, and is recognized as the leading global immigration services provider.

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