Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced a biometrics (fingerprints and photo) requirement for a number of individuals travelling to Canada.  The implementation will take place in two stages:

  1. Effective July 31, 2018, citizens of Europe, the Middle East and Africa will require Biometrics to enter Canada.

  2. Effective December 31, 2018, citizens from Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas will require Biometrics to enter Canada.

All foreign nationals who are applying for a visitor visa, work permit or study permit, permanent residence or claiming refugee or asylum status will require biometrics.  U.S. citizens are exempt from providing biometrics when applying for a visitor visa, work permit or study permit, however they are required to provide biometrics when applying for permanent residence.

There are some exceptions when biometrics are not required for individuals, see below (for a complete list of exemptions please visit IRCC’s website ):

  • Existing Canadian Permanent Residents
  • Visa-exempt Foreign Nationals visiting Canada as tourists and who are entering Canada for less than 6 months and hold a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
  • Children under the age of 14 and applicants over the age of 79

Individuals who are currently in Canada and are applying for a travel visa, study or work permit or permanent residence are temporarily exempt until the in-Canada service is established. 

The collection of biometrics is used as a reliable and accurate tool for establishing identity and will allow the Government of Canada to manage identity, facilitate application processing and simplify entry for travelers with legitimate identities.  Upon entry, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will be able to identify the legitimacy of a traveler’s identity.

Individuals who are not exempt from biometrics and are applying for a visitor visa, study permit, work permit or permanent residence will be required to go in person to a biometrics collection service location to provide their fingerprints and have a photo taken.  IRCC’s website identifies locations where individuals may go to provide their biometrics, which are valid for ten years.  The cost is $85 per individual applicant or a maximum of $170 for families applying together.

The introduction of the biometrics requirements will affect many foreign national faculty members, academic visitors, postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows and students to Western and we wanted to ensure you were aware of the new program.  Template letters for visiting foreign national academics have been updated to reflect the change and information on the new requirements is also available on our Immigration page.

Should you have additional questions, please contact the relevant office for your category of visitor:

Students – Sandra Pehilj,   X80054

Postdoctoral Scholars – Mihaela Harmos, , X80468

Clinical/Research Fellows – Kate O’Donnell, , X87675

Academics and other visitors – Jennifer Holburn, , X84366  or Connie Zrini, , X82915