Biometrics for Canada IEC Visa Applications – Your Top FAQ’s

March 20, 2020
Posted in Hospitality Internship, Student Internship, Study & Work, Working Holiday

August 22, 2020 UPDATE – Due to COVID-19, the Government of Canada has announced that extensions are available for biometrics required for IEC applications. See the full details here.

Are you looking to come to Canada under International Experience Canada (IEC) with a Working Holiday, International Co-op or Young Professional work permit? Biometrics is a required part of the process for applying for IEC work permits.

Your Canada biometrics are requested AFTER submitting your IEC visa work permit application. They are not required to be submitted with your application profile. However, it is important to be aware of what is required for Canada biometrics before you begin your application so you can plan accordingly.

What does this mean? In this post, we answer all the questions you may have about Canada biometrics and how it impacts your visa application. If you still have questions about biometrics, leave them in the comments below. We will do our best to find the answer for you!

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I have already completed biometrics in my country, but I still don’t have an answer on my working holiday permit. What should I do?

IEC is currently not processing any work permit applications. This means if you have already completed your biometrics, you have to wait until IEC resumes processing applications to receive your answer. Check back here for information on updates from IEC.

Biometrics centers in my home country are closed. How can I complete my biometrics?

You can actually complete biometrics in any country. You do not have to complete them in your home country. This is because not all countries have Visa Application Centers (VACs). You can find the nearest VAC to you here. However, because of travel restrictions currently in place for COVID-19, you may not be able to travel to the nearest country with a VAC. In this case, you will need to wait for those travel restrictions to be lifted so you can travel to the nearest country with a VAC.

Is it true Canada is currently requiring working holiday visa holders to have a job offer in order to enter Canada?

Yes, this is true. Once your working holiday visa application has been approved, you will be required to present your job offer letter to Immigration officials upon entering Canada in order for your work permit to be approved. This is a new requirement which began as a result of COVID-19. Our team can assist you with arranging your job in Canada before leaving your home country. We will also ensure you have the correct documentation to provide Immigration in order to get your work permit approved for the full duration.

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What are biometrics?

Biometrics are biological (physical) measurements used to digitally identify a person. These include measurements such as your fingerprints or facial identifiers. This allows Canadian visa officers to confirm your identity. To obtain your Canada biometrics, you will have your fingerprints scanned and a digital photo taken along with a few other personal details.

How do I know if I need to complete biometrics?

Biometrics are required by anyone applying for a Canadian work permit, study permit and permanent residency. Find out here if you need to provide biometrics. But do not worry, the Government of Canada will notify you when you are required to provide your biometrics.

Individuals applying for a work permit through IEC, including working holiday permits, are required to complete biometrics.

How long does it take to receive my biometrics letter from Canada?

Approximately 24 hours after submitting your IEC work permit application, you will receive a notification in your MyCIC account. The notification contains an official letter requesting your biometrics. This Biometrics Instruction Letter (BIL) contains the directions for how to obtain your biometrics. This letter must be taken with you to your biometrics appointment. Below is an example of a BIL:

When and how do I pay for biometrics?

Canada charges a biometrics fee of $85 CAD. You pay this fee at the same time as the IEC permit application fee ($153 CAD). Both fees are collected in order to submit your IEC work permit application.

For example, if you are about to submit your Canada Working Holiday application through your MyCIC account, you will need to pay the regular IEC fee ($153 CAD), open work permit fee ($100 CAD) and an extra fee ($85 CAD) for biometrics. You will need to pay both fees in order to submit your working holiday application and receive your biometrics request letter.

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Where can I get my biometrics for my Canada Working Holiday?

To have your biometrics collected, you will need to go in-person to a Visa Application Centre (VAC). VAC’s are privately operated. They provide the Government of Canada with your biometric information.

You can find the nearest VAC here. For most VAC’s, you must schedule an appointment first. We highly recommend contacting the closest VAC to you in advance to confirm if you need an appointment. If you are required to travel to get your biometrics done, make sure they can help you the exact day you are planning to go there.

When there, they will scan your fingerprints, take your photo, and give you a receipt that your biometrics have been completed. After that, your application will start to be processed by the Government of Canada.

There is no VAC close to my city, what do I do?

Unfortunately, there aren’t VAC locations in every IEC country yet. Canada is currently working on opening more VAC locations. If there is no VAC in your city, you will need to travel to complete your biometrics. This is why it is important to plan ahead.

Some countries currently have temporary locations to complete biometrics. For example in Germany, there is only one VAC in the city of Dusseldorf, but Canada has opened temporary offices in the Canadian Embassies in Berlin and Austria. There are also temporary offices in France, Ireland, and Norway. You can find more details on the temporary VAC offices here.

Even if there is no VAC in your city or country, the 30-day deadline to submit your biometrics still applies. You must be financially prepared to travel overland or by flight to complete the biometrics step once you receive your BIL.

I am currently outside my home country, can I do my biometrics in another country?

Yes, you can go to any VAC  it doesn’t have to be the VAC in your country of residence. You can search for the closest VAC centre to you here.

Example scenario: You are a permanent resident of France. You submitted a working holiday permit application and paid the biometrics fee through MyCIC. You have scheduled a trip to Spain right after so you will not have time to travel to the closest VAC in France. Instead, you can travel to Spain, and get your biometrics done at the VAC there. The most important thing is that you complete your biometrics within 30 days, or before the deadline specified in your biometrics instruction letter (BIL). Otherwise, you will get your working holiday application denied for Canada.

I am already in Canada and I need to provide biometrics for my IEC work permit, where can I do this?

Canada has set up biometrics locations within the country, so you can complete your biometrics within Canada. They are done at Service Canada offices (SCOs). You can search for the closest Service Canada location here.

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What documents do I need to bring to complete my biometrics?

You will need to bring your biometrics instruction letter (BIL) and your passport. That’s it! Your BIL is the letter you received in your MyCIC account after paying your visa and biometrics fee.

Important: you need to receive your BIL in order to complete your Canada biometrics. Without this letter, you cannot get your biometrics taken.

After I complete my biometrics, do I need to submit a confirmation to CIC?

Nope, your IEC application is finished! The VAC will connect your biometrics directly with your application. You don’t need to do anything other than check your MyCIC account for updates. So sit back and wait for the good news!

The VAC will give you a receipt which they usually attach to your request letter. Make sure you keep this receipt in a safe place in case there is a problem with your application. This will be proof that you did complete your biometrics.


How long does it take to get my visa after biometrics Canada?

Prior to COVID-19, it took IEC eight weeks to process your work visa application. It is important to note that this processing time begins after you have completed your biometrics. The time it takes you to submit your biometrics isn’t included in the total IEC application processing time.

For example, IEC processing time is normally eight weeks. If it takes you three weeks to get your biometrics done, the eight week processing time will begin AFTER you complete your biometrics. This means the sooner you do your biometrics, the sooner your application will start to be processed.

A note on waiting time after biometrics during COVID-19:

Due to COVID-19, IEC has paused all applications. This means that even if you already submit your biometrics, you have to wait for IEC to resume processing applications before you will get an update on your visa.

How do I know when my biometrics have been approved?

Once you complete your biometrics, you will receive a biometrics validity letter like the one below. It confirms your biometrics are done! This document tells you that your biometric information is valid for the 10 years following the date of the letter.


Can my Working Holiday Visa application be denied during my biometrics?

NO, your IEC application cannot be denied before completing your biometrics measurements. Canada visa officers only review your application profile AFTER receiving your biometrics. Once they have received your biometrics, it is possible for your application to be denied. But not during the biometrics process.

IMPORTANT: Your permit application will be denied if you do not complete your biometrics — as this step is MANDATORY.

You have 30 days after receiving your biometrics instruction letter to complete them. Make sure you do so within that time frame to avoid your application being denied.

I have a valid work permit or study permit in Canada and want to extend my permit. Do I need to complete biometrics in Canada if it wasn’t required before?

Yes! If you received your work or study permit prior to Canada rolling out the biometrics requirement, you must now complete biometrics to have your extension approved. You can complete your biometrics at a Service Canada office. They are located all across the country. View the locations here.

That is everything you need to know about biometrics when applying for an IEC work permit! Please share your questions or experience below!

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Disclaimer: No Legal Advice Provided.

The material on our website and on this webpage is intended to provide only general information and comment to our clients and the public. Although we make our best efforts to ensure that the information found on our website is accurate and timely, do not, under any circumstances, rely on information found on our website as legal or immigration advice. Nor do we guarantee the accuracy of any information contained on websites to which our website provides links. For assistance with your specific inquiry or problem, please contact a lawyer or an immigration consultant.

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