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Canada opens new Visa Application Centres to assist expanding biometrics program

20.05.19 05:30 PM Comment(s) By THE OFFICE OF DIPENDRA KANDEL

The Government of Canada is opening new Visa Application Centres in various regions in preparation for December 31, when nationals from Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas will be required to provide their biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) when applying to visit, work, study or settle in Canada. 

As part of Canada's Biometrics program expansion, new Visa Application Centres (VACs) have opened in the following regions: 

  • - Asia Pacific (Bali, Indonesia; Melbourne, Australia)
  • - The Americas (Mendoza, Argentina; Porto Alegre and Recife, Brazil; Cali, Colombia; Santiago, Chile; and Bridgetown, Barbados)
  • - Europe (Lyon, France; Vienna, Austria)

VACs are privately-owned service providers authorized by the Canadian government to provide visa-related services. 

Canada began expanding its network of VACs in advance of the introduction of mandatory biometrics for nationals from Europe, Africa and Middle East on July 31, 2018.

Since the roll out of this first phase, new VACs have opened in:

  • Athens, Greece
  • Kigali, Rwanda
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Tel Aviv, Israel

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said some of these VACs replace temporary biometrics collection service locations that were opened in Europe to support the first phase of biometrics expansion.

The government anticipates that there will 152 VACs in 103 countries by end of 2018, including new VACs in Antananarivo, Madagascar, and Cape Town, South Africa.

IRCC says it has also enhanced services in existing VACs located in key countries, including China, India, and the Philippines.

Additionally, Canada is allowing applicants to submit their biometrics at a VAC in any country they are legally allowed to enter. If the applicant is in the United States, biometric data can be submitted at one of 135 U.S. Application Support Centers.

Canada Biometrics Expansion 

Biometric identification allows visa officers to screen applicants for prior criminal convictions or Canadian immigration violations. This also allows Canada Border Service Agency officers to confirm a traveller’s identity when entering Canada. 

The Government of Canada says "it takes privacy obligations very seriously, and safeguards have been built into policies, procedures and technical systems. These policies are based on the best practices of international partners who are increasingly relying on biometrics."

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