In 2018, Canada rolled out new legislation for those looking to gain access to the country. Biometrics are generally required whenever people apply for a work permit, study permit, visitor visa, or permanent residence. However, some people are exempt from submitting biometrics. They include children, those over the age of 79, and individuals who already have valid biometrics.
Biometrics include fingerprints and photos taken for identification purposes, and are used to:
- Confirm your identity
- Prevent someone else from stealing your identity
- Check your criminal record
One does not have to submit biometrics when applying for Canadian citizenship, however, on some occasions IRCC may request you to submit your fingerprint while the citizenship application is in process.
Fingerprints are used to conduct a criminal record check, and there may be other reasons for IRCC to request you to submit your fingerprints, such as:
- Quality Assurance. I these cases, the applicants are chosen randomly and may be requested to provide other documentation as well.
- A name and date of birth similar to the name and date of birth of another permanent resident / citizenship applicant (especially if that person had a citizenship application that was refused). In these cases, fingerprints are used to distinguish you form other people with similar names and dates of birth.
- A name and sometimes date of birth similar to someone with a criminal record.
In all cases, your fingerprints will be sent to the RCMP. They will run your fingerprints through a criminal database to look for potential matches.
After your fingerprints are requested, you should submit them within 30 days, following which it may take anywhere between a few weeks to a month to be processed. If you have a criminal record, processing times will take longer (up to 3 months).