Where and when biometrics are collected

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.

Biometrics collection must take place at the same time as or after the applicant submits an application and they receive a biometric instruction letter (BIL). Exceptions occur for overseas resettlement applicants.

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Where biometrics are collected

Applicants are required to present themselves in person at a biometrics collection service point. Service points include:

Biometrics collection at VACs

VACs are the primary service channel for permanent and temporary residence applicants enrolling their biometrics overseas. VACs provide administrative support services to applicants related to the submission of their temporary residence applications. VAC employees do not make discretionary decisions to exempt applicants from the collection of their biometric information.

All VACs accept a valid BIL. Temporary residence applicants can submit an application at a VAC and enrol their biometrics upfront only at the same VAC where their application and fee were submitted, whether simultaneously or at a later date.

Biometrics collection at select U.S. ASCs

Select U.S. ASCs conduct the enrolment of biometrics in the United States on behalf of IRCC for permanent and temporary residence applicants.

Applicants are therefore required to first submit their application to IRCC. Subsequently, a BIL is issued to the applicant, which the applicant must present to the U.S. ASC at the time of their biometrics collection session. Enrolment of biometrics at U.S. ASCs are done through an appointment process.

U.S. ASCs will not collect biometric information from applicants who do not provide a copy of the BIL. U.S. ASCs do not provide administrative support services to applicants. As well. U.S. ASC employees do not make discretionary decisions to exempt applicants from biometrics collection.

Biometrics collection at select Service Canada locations

Service Canada collects biometrics in Canada on behalf of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Applicants who receive a biometrics instruction letter can give their biometrics at any of the 58 designated Service Canada locations across the country.

To give biometrics in Canada, applicants will need to book an appointment in advance through an online appointment booking tool at canada.ca/service-canada-appointment.

Applicants, including those in Canada who will be travelling outside the country, can also give their biometrics at a visa application centre (VAC) or an Application Support Center in the United States.

For clients who have a biometric instruction letter (BIL), biometrics will be collected by enrolment agents using equipment provided and maintained by IRCC.

Enrolment agents will not collect biometric information from applicants who do not provide a copy of their BIL. Service Canada enrolment agents do not provide administrative support services to applicants. As well, Service Canada employees do not make discretionary decisions to exempt applicants from biometrics collection.

Biometrics collection at IRCC visa offices (in limited situations)

While most overseas applicants will enrol their biometric information at VACs, IRCC will continue to have biometrics collection equipment available at all visa offices to provide collection services in limited circumstances relating to national interest, operational requirements (overseas refugee resettlement) or other reasons when the VAC is unable to collect (subject to approvals from International Network [IN] or Immigration Program Guidance Branch [IPG]. The request is sent through the Biometrics Operational Support Unit [BOSU]).

Biometrics Collection at ports of entry

Select ports of entry (POE) (19 airports and 38 land ports) will have the capability to conduct biometrics enrolment for certain visa-exempt applicants for work and study permits who are currently authorized by regulation to apply at a POE.

POEs will continue to collect biometric information from asylum claimants, as needed.

For more information see:

Biometrics collection at select Global Affairs Canada (GAC) locations

The enrolment of biometrics is conducted by GAC at designated locations for permanent and temporary residence applicants on behalf of IRCC.

For clients who have a BIL, biometrics will be collected by enrolment agents using equipment provided and maintained by IRCC.

Enrolment agents will not collect biometric information from applicants who do not provide a copy of their BIL. GAC enrolment agents do not provide administrative support services to applicants.

When overseas resettlement applicants must have their biometrics collected

For overseas resettlement applicants, biometrics collection outside Canada can take place at any point in the application process. Typically, collection will occur at the interview. However, the timing will depend on the point in the process when the applicant comes into contact with an IRCC office or officer.

How often biometrics are collected

To reduce the compliance burden on applicants, IRCC has instituted a 1 in 10 policy which will not require applicants to re-enrol their biometric information (fingerprints and digital photo) within a 10-year period, ensuring previously enrolled biometric information can be used and associated with subsequent temporary residence applications.

IRCC will be able to determine whether an applicant has valid biometrics on file and will keep track of the biometric validity period.

The frequency of biometrics collection is driven by 3 factors:

Application type

Category Description
Temporary residence Biometrics provided in support of a temporary residence application are valid for 10 years to support subsequent temporary residence applications.
Permanent residence Biometrics provided in support of a permanent residence application are valid only for the duration of the application.
Permanent residence to temporary residence Biometrics provided in support of a permanent residence application can be applied to support a temporary residence application. The validity of these biometrics is set to the length of the applicant’s permanent residence or temporary residence status, whichever is longer.
Temporary residence to permanent residence Biometrics provided in support of a temporary residence application cannot be used to support a permanent residence application.
Permanent residenceto permanent residence Biometrics will be required in support of every permanent residence application (that is, if applicants refuse or withdraw their previous applications, they cannot use their biometrics to support future applications).

Whether or not biometrics are already on file

  • If valid biometrics are on file for a previous temporary residence application, they can be used for any subsequent temporary residence application.
  • Permanent residence applicants must submit biometrics for each application regardless of possible previous biometrics on file.
  • If valid biometrics are on file for a permanent residence application, they can be used for any temporary residence application for the duration of that permanent residence application.

Time since the last biometrics enrolment

Depending on the application type, it is possible for applicants to re-enrol their biometrics in order to maximize their biometric validity period for subsequent applications.

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