Conditions that interfere with biometrics collection

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

In some cases, applicants may be unable to provide the required fingerprints and photograph, due to a variety of reasons, including birth defects, wounds, injuries, scars, disfigurements, bandages or other similar conditions.

The instructions for biometrics enrolment operators outlined below are intended to do all of the following:

  • minimize inconvenience to applicants
  • prevent applicants from feigning injury to avoid biometrics collection
  • provide clear instructions to visa application centres (VACs), select Service Canada locations, select Global Affairs Canada (GAC) locations and United States (U.S.) application support centers (ASCs) regarding biometrics collection procedures when temporary and permanent conditions interfere with the process

Temporary injuries and conditions

Temporary injuries and conditions are any physical state that interferes with fingerprinting or photographing but is expected to be resolved by the passage of time. Examples include but are not limited to the following:

  • bandages due to recent surgery or injury
  • cuts
  • scrapes
  • swelling
  • irritations
  • contusions

Instructions for the biometrics enrolment operator

The biometrics enrolment operator must do all of the following:

  • question the applicant about the nature, timing and cause of the condition
  • enter a note regarding the nature of the applicant’s injury or condition and its possible cause in the Canadian Immigration Biometric Identification System (CIBIDS)
  • inform the applicant that it is best to return at a later date to provide biometrics, once the temporary issue is resolved, and that they can contact Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) if they need more than the 30 days allotted in the biometric instruction letter (BIL)
  • inform the applicant that, if they choose to proceed, the IRCC office may require them to resubmit biometrics if there are any issues with quality

If the applicant chooses to proceed with the biometrics collection session, the officer must record the biographic data and capture the best-quality photograph possible and all available fingerprints.

Instructions for the IRCC office (inland and overseas)

The officer must process the application by using the available biometric information and the results of the fingerprint search.

If the IRCC officer decides to repeat the biometrics collection session, once the temporary issue is resolved, then the officer must do the following:

  • ask the applicant to resubmit full or partial biometrics, as stated on the applicant’s BIL (done at the IRCC inland office, a VAC, select Service Canada locations, select GAC locations or U.S. ASCs, if warranted)
  • exempt the applicant from the payment of a new biometric fee

Permanent injuries and conditions

Permanent injuries and conditions are any physical state that interferes with fingerprinting or photographing but are not expected to be resolved by the passage of time. Examples include but are not limited to the following:

  • missing digits, due to amputation or a birth defect
  • conditions that affect the placement of fingers on the collection device, such as severe chronic arthritis
  • scarring or other damage to the fingertips that results in extremely poor-quality fingerprints, such as heavy calluses, due to manual labour
  • facial scarring, disfigurements or skin conditions that prevent a good-quality photograph from being taken, such as extensive burns
  • other physical conditions that prevent a good-quality photograph from being taken, such as tremors that prevent the applicant from remaining still, resulting in a blurry photograph

Instructions for the biometrics enrolment operator at VACs and GAC locations

The biometrics enrolment operator must do all of the following:

  • question the applicant regarding the nature of the condition and its cause
  • enter a note regarding the nature of the applicant’s injury or condition and its possible cause in CIBIDS
  • proceed with biometrics enrolment by capturing the best-quality photograph and fingerprints possible
  • advise the applicant that the IRCC office may contact them for further medical information about the injury or condition

Instructions for the IRCC office (inland and overseas)

The officer must do all of the following:

  • document the condition or injury in the Global Case Management System
  • if no further information is required, process the application, using the available biometric information
  • if further information is required, request further information from the applicant about the injury or condition or schedule an interview and collect available biometric information during the interview.
Note: When no fingerprints are recorded, nothing is sent to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to search against their criminal and immigration databases, so no search response is returned.

Requesting a medical officer or panel physician

IRCC officers may request the assistance of a medical officer or a specialized medical examination with a panel physician if all the following conditions are met:

  • The applicant is unable to provide both a good-quality photograph and a minimum of 5 of the 8 fingerprints other than the little fingers (that is, a minimum of 5 fingerprints of the thumbs and index, middle and ring fingers).
  • There are well-founded suspicions of fraud or malfeasance.
  • Other attempts to address the situation have not been successful. Examples of this include the following:
    • waiting for a temporary injury to improve
    • repeatedly collecting biometric information
    • requesting that applicants submit pre-existing medical information
  • The assistance of the medical officer or specialized medical examination is likely to help with addressing the concerns of the IRCC office.

The basic function of the medical officer and panel physician is to confirm if medical conditions are genuine.

Important: There are certain functions that the medical officer and panel physician should not be requested to provide. These include all of the following:

  • confirming the existence of medical conditions that are obvious, even without medical expertise, such as missing or amputated fingers and hands
  • determining if medical conditions are natural, the result of an accident or deliberately self‑inflicted in an attempt to commit fraud
  • evaluating the quality of the applicant’s fingerprints

If a specialized medical examination is required, the visa office should do all of the following:

  • issue a letter advising the applicant of the requirement for the examination
  • notify the panel physician directly by email and provide them with information concerning the situation

The applicant is responsible for paying all charges associated with the medical examination.

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