Effective immediately, certain Ukrainians looking to move to Canada will no longer need to submit their biometrics at Visa Application Centres (VACs) overseas.
In an email to CIC News this morning, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser’s office explained:
“Biometrics are currently a requirement before arrival in Canada for the majority of Ukrainian nationals. IRCC relies on biometrics for identity management and to ensure the integrity of Canada’s visa programs. The collection of biometrics is an essential component of the security screening process to protect the safety and security of Canadians and Ukrainian nationals when they arrive on Canadian soil.
However, IRCC has identified 3 cohorts of individuals that are low risk and therefore biometric screening can be eased to expedite processing. IRCC is easing requirements for three cohorts of people, including:
- clients aged 14-17
- clients over 60
- clients with previous Canadian visas and no derogatory immigration history, who hold supporting documents
Biometrics are not required for children under age 14.
This decision was made with the upmost caution for Canadian citizens and Ukrainians fleeing the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The easing of biometrics will ensure Ukrainian nationals are arriving in Canada as quickly and as safely as possible.”
Two weeks ago, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) and introduced a three-year open work permit. These are among the variety of Canadian immigration measures available to assist Ukrainians amid the war with Russia.
IRCC had required that Ukrainians submit their biometrics overseas before being able to come to Canada. This has posed logistical challenges since demand among Ukrainians to submit their biometrics exceeds the number of appointments available at VACs. Minister Fraser has been asked by the likes of the media, civic groups, and opposition parties if the federal government could waive the visa requirement altogether or at least waive the overseas biometrics requirement and have Ukrainians submit them upon arrival to Canada. Critics have argued such requirements are slowing Canada’s ability to help Ukrainians. The minister, however, has explained this would make it difficult for the federal government to identify potential security threats looking to use the CUAET to enter Canada.
The new announcement that the overseas biometrics requirement is being eased for certain groups is a recognition by IRCC that these groups pose less of a security risk than other cohorts.
Certain foreign nationals are required to submit their biometrics at VACs before entering Canada. This includes submitting your fingerprints and a photo. The purpose of biometrics is to make the identification of travellers more efficient and to expedite entry into Canada for low-risk travellers.