Home > Canada Blog >

What you need to know about biometrics for a Canada visa

What you need to know about biometrics for a Canada visa
iVisa | Updated on Jan 17, 2023

If you want to visit Canada, you may need to go through a number of formalities, depending on your nationality. For example, when applying for a Canada visa for the first time, you must provide your biometrics to the Canadian government before they start the application process. You can apply for the Canadian Visitor Visa through iVisa.

Biometrics are currently collected at the visa application stage and checked at the moment of entry in Canada. The biometrics you must submit for the visa application consists of:

  • Applicant photo

  • Fingerprints

This is done for almost every type of Canadian visa application process, including a temporary resident visa. Find out more below about where to provide biometrics and what the Canada Visa processing time is after submission.

How the biometrics service works for the Canada Visitor Visa

It is only necessary to provide your biometrics every 10 years in Canada. Your biometrics do not need to be updated until the 10-year period is over.

You don't need to submit biometrics again if you have already provided them as part of an application for Canadian visas, such as a visitor visa, work permit, or study permit in the past.

Biometric information such as fingerprints and photos will be encrypted and sent electronically to a secure database managed by the Government of Canada.

Where can you provide biometrics?

Outside of Canada, the biometrics of foreign nationals are collected at a Canada-authorized Visa Application Centre (VAC), which can be found in over 180 countries around the world.

If you apply for your Canada Visitor Visa through iVisa, we’ll send you detailed information on where the nearest application centre is located, what to bring (required documents and valid passport), and how to make an appointment. We will also provide you with the biometric instruction letter needed to make an appointment.

The Canada biometrics fee depends on your nationality and other factors, such as if you are applying with family members.

Who needs to provide biometrics for Canada?

You can only give your biometrics as part of an application for a Canadian travel document or residence permit. Your fingerprints and photo are usually needed before you start your application.

Biometrics are typically required when applying for:

  • Canada Visitor Visas (also known as the Canada tourist visa)

  • Canadian study permit (excluding US nationals)

  • Canadian work permit (excluding US nationals)

  • Permanent residence in Canada

  • Refugee or asylum status

  • Extension of your stay in Canada

As mentioned before, first-time biometrics are usually valid for 10 years.

Biometrics for Canadian visa – exemptions

Below is a list of exemptions to providing biometrics for Canada.

  • Canadian citizens and current permanent residents

  • Citizenship applicants (passport applicants)

  • Visa-exempt nationals who applied for an Electronic Travel Authorization (Canada ETA)

  • Children under the age of 14 and people over the age of 79

  • Heads of state and government

  • Ministers and diplomats who travel to Canada on official business

  • U.S. valid visa holders who are transiting through Canada

  • Protected persons or refugee claimants who have given their biometrics in the past and now apply for a work or study permit

  • Temporary resident applicants who have already given their fingerprints and photo in support of a permanent resident application that is still in progress

In all the other cases, you need to find the closest VAC in your area to get the application process started.

How to get the best fingerprints and photos during your biometrics appointment

Some tips for your Canadian biometrics appointment at the visa office, to avoid having to re-do them:

  • Keep your hands paint or henna-free

  • Let temporary injuries, wounds, or cuts heal before giving your biometrics

  • Avoid wearing light-colored clothing or any type of headgear (only allowed for religious purposes)

  • Your whole face must be clearly visible on the photo

If the Canadian government can’t get high-quality fingerprints during your biometrics appointment, you may need to re-do them again at a later date.

Canada Visitor Visa processing time after biometric collection

The Canada visa processing times after submitting your biometrics range from a few weeks up to 8 weeks.

Is your application submitted? The Canadian immigration services will process applications from the moment your biometrics are received, but sometimes delays can take place due to the number of applicants coming in at a specific time.

After the application is submitted and paid for, you’ll receive a tracking number, to check the status along the way. The entire process can take time, so it is recommended to apply well in advance of your trip.

More questions about the Canada Visitor Visa?

If you need more information about how to obtain the Canada Visitor Visa or other valid travel document to enter Canada, let us know. You can contact us 24/7 via online chat or email at [email protected].