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

Are you looking to come to Canada under International Experience Canada (IEC) with a Working Holiday, International Co-op or Young Professional work permit? Canada biometrics are required for applying for IEC work permits. In this post, we answer all the questions you may have about Canada biometrics and how it impacts your visa application.

Stepwest participant Layla taking advantage of a bluebird day during her working holiday in Canada

What are biometrics?

Biometrics are biological (physical) measurements used to digitally identify a person, such as your fingerprints or facial identifiers. These are used by 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.

Your Canada biometrics are requested after submitting your IEC visa work permit application. However, it is important to be aware of what is required for Canada biometrics before you begin your application so that you can plan accordingly.

How do I know if I need to complete biometrics?

Biometrics are required by anyone applying for a Canadian work permit, including IEC permits. 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.

When and how do I pay for Canada biometrics?

Canada charges a biometrics fee of $85 CAD. You pay this fee at the same time as the IEC permit application fee ($156 CAD) and open work permit fee ($100 CAD), for working holiday permits. All fees are collected in order to submit your IEC work permit application.

This means that if you are about to submit your working holiday application for Canada through your MyCIC account, you will need to pay;

  • IEC fee ($172 CAD)
  • Open work permit fee ($100 CAD)
  • Biometrics Fee ($85 CAD)

You will need to pay both fees in order to submit your working holiday application and receive your biometrics request letter.

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

To complete your biometrics 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 all VAC’s, you must schedule an appointment first. 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. Processing times for IEC permits start counting from this moment (8 weeks).

Once you've done your biometrics, you're a small step away from seeing these views!

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

Unfortunately, there aren’t VAC locations in every IEC country yet. 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. You can find more details on 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 Biometrics Instructions Letter (BIL) or Biometrics Request Letter.

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.

Example scenario: You are a citizen 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 in Madrid, Spain. 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.

Originally from Costa Rica, Gabriel joined our Hospitality Internship Program and worked in a leading hotel in Banff

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

You will need to bring your Biometrics Instruction Letter (BIL) and your Original 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 now ready to be processed! 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.

How do I know when my biometrics have been approved?

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

Additional Canada Biometric FAQs

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 — 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!

Planning to come to Canada?

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