Canada Exempts Essential Temporary Foreign Workers from Giving Oversea Biometrics

IRCC offers flexibility during coronavirus pandemic to allow foreign workers enter Canada

In order to come to Canada, some applications, like work permits, require applicants to give their biometrics. Usually, this is done by going to the nearest visa application centre (VAC) or biometrics collection site, paying a fee and submitting fingerprints and an identification photo. Due to current health and travel restrictions however, many VACs and biometrics collection sites have had to close. 

Many temporary foreign workers work in sectors that have been deemed essential. These sectors rely on temporary foreign workers to fill skill gaps in the workforce. To make it easier for these workers to continue coming to Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced a temporary public policy on June 5. This new policy allows temporary foreign workers coming to work in the agriculture, agri-foods and health-care sectors, as well as truck drivers, to be exempt from giving their biometrics overseas before coming to Canada. 

According to IRCC, many temporary foreign workers in these essential fields have already given their biometrics because they have worked in Canada before. IRCC will continue to perform security checks for the safety and security of Canada, and applicants who are unable to give their biometrics overseas because the collection site closest to them is closed, may be asked to give their biometrics at a Canadian Point of Entry (POE). 

At the POE, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will also assess the health, nature of travel and quarantine plan of all potential entrants. Those with symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter. Those without symptoms and travelling for essential reasons, like work, must have an adequate quarantine plan to be allowed to enter. 

The quarantine plan must include a place to stay for 14 days that is separate from vulnerable individuals. Entrants must also have a way to get themselves and groceries to the quarantine location and they must have a way to access essential services and medical care. Employers who are responsible for housing their workers must provide quarantine accommodations. Truck drivers who cross the border regularly as part of their essential service are exempt from the quarantine requirement. 

In addition to the new temporary policy for truck drivers and workers in the agriculture, agri-foods and health-care sectors, IRCC has also granted an extension to all other applicants who are unable to give their biometrics due to COVID-19 closures. Whether the deadline on their biometric instruction letter (BIL) is 30 days or 90 days, applicants will not be required to give their biometrics until VACs and other biometrics collection sites reopen.  

IRCC has said that they will not close or refuse any applications that are missing documents due to COVID-19 closures and they advise applicants to continue checking online so that they know when their biometrics collection site is open and they can begin completing the application process as quickly as possible.    

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