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Soon South Africans are to be affected by Canada’s new biometrics rules

South Africans will as of 31 July 2018 have to satisfy a new set of biometric requirements anytime they plan on crossing a Canadian border.

The new rules which will come in to effect at the end of the month, applies to anyone from Europe, the Middle East and Africa applying for a Canadian visa.

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The new biometrics system will rely on facial recognition technology and will be further supported by finger printing anyone entering Canada on a Canadian visitor visa, a work or study permit, permanent residence or for asylum in Canada.

Travelers from visa-exempt countries who are coming to Canada as tourists with a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) will not be required to provide biometrics. For a full list of exemptions, please see the end of this article.

Commenting on the new biometric rules the Canadian department of citizenship and immigration said that the collection of biometrics will facilitate application processing and simplify entry into Canada for low-risk travelers.

The new rules require all travelers between the ages of 14 and 79 must provide biometric information, except in asylum cases, for which there is no upper age limit.  The process is said to be fast costing between CAD $85 for an individual or CAD $170 for a family that is applying together.

Biometrics will be used during both the application for a visa and all Canadian border control points. The process means that immigration officers will be able to screen all travelers and prevent anyone who may not meet Canada’s entry requirements (such as convicted criminals or abusers of Canada’s immigration laws) to be identified.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) will check an applicant’s fingerprints against the fingerprint records of:


refugee claimants,

deportees, and

temporary resident applicants.

Any matches to existing RCMP records will be analyzed by the visa officer treating the application, who will use the information to make a final decision.

Eight major Canadian airports will have self-serve Primary Inspection Kiosks where fingerprints will be verified, photos confirmed and travelers can make an on-screen declaration.

Fingerprint verification will be on a discretionary basis by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers at other Canadian airports and at land ports of entry.

Where to provide your biometrics

If you are outside Canada and applying for the first time, you can provide your biometrics at a Government of Canada-authorized Visa Application Centre (VAC) when you’re applying for a visa in person.

There are 137 VACs in 95 countries where an applicant can give their biometrics.  As of December 2018 South Africans will be able to apply at new VAC located in Cape Town.

How long will you biometrics be valid for?

If you are applying for a visitor visa or work / study permit, you only need to give your biometrics once every 10 years. However, if you have an application refused and you later reapply, you will need to renew your biometrics.

If you are applying for permanent residence, IRCC says you will need to give your biometrics and pay the fee regardless of whether you provided your biometrics in the past to support a visitor visa, study or work permit application or a different application for permanent residence.


Canada’s Biometrics are shared with other countries

Canada shares biometric information with the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. IRCC says this is done in accordance with Canada’s privacy laws and civil liberties and human rights commitments, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Government of Canada keeps fingerprints on record for 15 years from the time you provide them. They are deleted after this time or if the applicant is granted Canadian citizenship.


Source: CIC News and IRCC

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