To support biometrics expansion, Canada is opening new Visa Application Centres and offering interim services at some missions

News release

June 29, 2018 – Ottawa, ON – In 2018, Canada will expand its biometrics program. Expanding biometrics will strengthen Canada’s immigration programs through effective screening and will also facilitate application processing and travel – while maintaining public confidence in our immigration system.

Canada currently collects biometrics from in-Canada refugee claimants and overseas refugee resettlement applicants, individuals ordered removed from the country and individuals from 30 foreign nationalities applying for a temporary resident visa, work permit, or study permit.

On July 31, 2018, nationals from countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East will be required to provide biometrics (fingerprints and a photo) if they are applying for a visitor visa, a work or study permit, or permanent residence.

To accommodate increased demand this summer and fall in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the Government of Canada is pleased to announce that additional Visa Application Centres (VACs) will open in:

  • Kigali, Rwanda; Stockholm, Sweden; and Tel Aviv, Israel by mid-September 2018
  • Athens, Greece; Berlin, Germany; Lyon, France; and Vienna, Austria in early November 2018 and
  • Antananarivo, Madagascar and Cape Town, South Africa in early December 2018

Additional VACs will also open in 2019. These will be announced at a later date.

In advance of these VACs opening, some Canadian embassies in Europe will offer interim biometrics collection service points for applicants who have applied online or by mail and have received a Biometrics Instruction Letter.

Applicants can also provide their biometrics at any nearby VAC:

  • From July 31 to mid-September 2018: In Stockholm, at the Embassy of Canada to Sweden, for applicants from Sweden and neighbouring countries.
  • From July 31 to early November 2018: Canadian embassies in Athens, Greece; Berlin, Germany; and Vienna, Austria for applicants from Greece, Germany, Austria and neighbouring countries.
  • From July 31 to early November 2018: In a leased commercial space in Lyon, France for applicants from France and neighbouring countries.

All of the above temporary service points will only collect biometrics. Applications will not be accepted at these locations.

Applicants must first apply on Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada’s website or by mail, and must have received a Biometrics Instruction Letter, before providing their biometrics in support of an application.


“Each year, Canada welcomes millions of visitors and accepts hundreds of thousands of students, workers and permanent residents. Visitors applying abroad use Canada’s Visa Application Centres to provide their biometrics and submit their applications. To facilitate the increased demand for biometrics, Canada is increasing its Visa Application Centre presence in the next 2 years. By November 2019, there will be at least 157 Centres in 105 countries”.

 – The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Quick facts

  • VACs are privately owned, third-party service providers located around the world that are authorized to provide Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) visa applicants with specific administrative support.

  • VACs offer support to applicants before, during and after their temporary resident application is assessed by an IRCC officer. VAC service agents can be reached by phone and email, or in person, to answer questions in local languages. VACs are also authorized to collect biometrics from applicants.

  • With extended hours of operation and more points of service, VACs make the process of applying for a visa or permit to enter Canada, including collecting biometrics, easier and convenient.

  • VACs are the most cost-effective and sustainable way for the Government of Canada to provide services to applicants around the world.

  • Biometrics:

    • are the measurement of unique physical characteristics
    • for Canadian immigration programs, biometrics include fingerprints and a photograph of the face
  • Exemptions to biometrics expansion include:

    • Canadian citizens, citizenship applicants (including passport applicants), or existing permanent residents
    • children under the age of 14
    • applicants over the age of 79 (there is no upper age exemption for asylum claimants)
    • visa-exempt nationals coming to Canada as tourists who hold a valid electronic travel authorization;
    • heads of state and heads of government
    • cabinet ministers and accredited diplomats of other countries and the United Nations, coming to 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
    • temporary resident applicants who have already provided biometrics in support of a permanent resident application that is still in progress

Associated links


Contacts for media only

Mathieu Genest
Minister’s Office
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

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