Processing poor quality fingerprints

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Poor quality fingerprints may or may not be accepted, after an officer assessment is conducted to review system or applicant limitations.

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Canadian Immigration Biometric Identification System (CIBIDS) poor quality fingerprints

CIBIDS accepts poor quality fingerprints and provides real-time feedback to advise officers when a poor quality fingerprint has been taken.

When CIBIDS advises officers of a poor quality fingerprint, the officer should attempt to take the fingerprint again.

However, the officer can also choose to accept the poor quality fingerprint. The officer must select the appropriate reason for why a poor quality fingerprint was accepted. Officers have the option of including additional notes and should define and record alternative reasons for the acceptance, where appropriate.

The information is displayed in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) and is visible to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officer assessing the application.

RCMP poor quality fingerprints

RCMP will not send a response when the quality of the fingerprints is too poor to perform a search.

The poor quality fingerprint will display on GCMS as an error transaction.

There are 2 options for the IRCC officer processing the application in this scenario:

  • request that applicants provide their biometric information again
  • obtain the approval of the migration program manager or operations manager to process the application without the results of the fingerprint check and clearly indicate this choice in the case notes in GCMS.

If approval is obtained, the officer may limit a permit’s validity and number of allowed entries when an applicant provides poor quality fingerprints.

Temporary conditions and poor quality biometrics

In cases where an applicant’s physical condition prevents the officer from obtaining good quality fingerprints or a good quality photograph, either of the following scenarios can take place:

  • the officer may defer the biometric enrolment until the applicant’s condition improves, if there is a reasonable expectation of improvement in a short time
  • the applicant may choose to defer the biometric enrolment until the condition improves

Officers should check the window of time an applicant has to enrol. If the enrolment period specified in the Biometric Instruction Letter will be exceeded, the applicant must notify IRCC.

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