Many permanent resident applicants are now exempt from giving biometrics

The government of Canada, in a significant move, decided to exempt a large group of permanent resident applicants from giving biometrics. However, individual applicants may not benefit from it.


Biometrics is a combination of a digital photo from the applicant’s face and digital fingerprints. Since July 31, 2018, almost everyone who intends to become a permanent resident must give biometrics; however, since the spread of COVID-19 majority of biometrics centres are not operational. Consequently, IRCC is facing a massive backlog of PR applications. They only review them if the biometrics are on file.

How a permanent resident applicant is exempt from giving biometrics

Many people who apply for a temporary visa must give biometrics. Of course, this includes TRV, work permit and study permit applications. A typical biometrics report is valid for up to ten years. Nonetheless, you may not use the report for your permanent resident application. Luckily, the new policy that became operational on September 22, 2020, will make this happen. Consequently, if you have a valid biometrics report on file for a temporary application, IRCC won’t request biometrics for your permanent resident application. However, this is a temporary measure due to the coronavirus pandemic and could change at any time.

What if I have already received the Biometrics Instruction Letter (BIL)

If you have already received the BIL and cannot give biometrics due to the pandemic, don’t worry. Assuming the exemption applies to you, IRCC will process your application and will ignore the letter. According to IRCC, they will refund you later. They have also asked new applicants not to pay the biometrics fee if they are exempt.

What if I am not exempt

If you are not exempt, your options depend on where you live. If you are inside Canada, then you need to wait for a phone call from Service Canada. They will call you and invite you to do biometrics. Of course, if you have a representative, then they will most likely receive the phone call. However, if you are outside Canada, then you must give biometrics as soon as you can. Otherwise, your applications will remain on hold.

What about temporary resident applicants?

Unfortunately, temporary resident applicants outside Canada must give biometrics. Of course, you could be exempt because of previous valid biometrics or because of your nationality. Visit the following pages for more information:

If you are a temporary resident inside Canada, you could be exempt from giving biometrics. Read the following news piece for more information:

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    Al Parsai

    Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (class L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) in Toronto, Canada. He is an adjunct professor at Queen's University Law School and Ashton College. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of CICC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.