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Canada removes biometrics exemption for in-country int’l students

The biometrics requirement exemption for students already in Canada ended this week, the latest change in a series of updates from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada government agency.

BiometricsInternational students already in Canada are no longer exempt from providing biometrics. Photo: Pixabay

[Biometrics] are recognised as one of the most reliable ways to identify people

International students, including those wishing to extend their permit, will now have to travel to one of the country’s 56 Service Canada locations to have their photo and fingerprints taken as part of the application process unless they have already had their biometrics taken by the IRCC in the last 10 years.

“It is another expense for international students on top of what they pay now”

“Fingerprints and photo collection are recognised as one of the most reliable ways to identify people and are used by more than 70 countries worldwide,” said Marco Mendicino, the Canadian minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship.

“We will enhance the efficiency and integrity of the immigration system in Canada.”

But for students in more remote areas, the need to travel may be an issue.

“Although I do understand the importance of it… it is another expense for international students on the top of what they pay now,” Makhbuba Ergasheva, international student advisor at Vancouver Island University, told The PIE News.

“It is a time-consuming process for international students and costs C$85 on the top of the existing $150 processing fees for study permits.

“VIU students now have to travel to long distances to have biometrics done since there is no biometrics service listed for Nanaimo,” Ergasheva added.

Similar concerns were raised when the IRCC rolled out biometrics requirements for international students outside Canada.

The increasing prevalence of collecting biometrics globally for visas is also creating issues for outbound students who attend colleges outside of major cities that host visa application centres.

“One thing that we struggle with are the barriers to having to travel to get to Montreal or Ottawa. Our students have to go there several times to get their visas for certain countries,” said one education abroad advisor during a session at the recent CBIE conference.

“One thing that we struggle with are the barriers to having to travel to get to Montreal or Ottawa”

Since June 2019, international students already in Canada have also needed to file permit applications and renewals online, with a few exceptions for post-graduation work permits.

Additionally, study permits for pre-requisite studies will be issued for the length of the program plus one year. Students can’t work off-campus while studying these types of courses.

“Probably the best part of the study permit’s assessment updates is that students no longer need a new study permit between levels of education,” added Ergasheva.

Aside from Quebec, which will still require students to get a new Quebec Acceptance Certificate, students are no longer required to obtain a new permit if the current one is still valid.

They also don’t need to do so if switching between designated learning institutions, although they must inform the IRCC of this.

“The new policy saves a lot of trouble for students who complete their high school studies and plan to pursue their studies in college or university,” Jing Yao, international advising and articulation specialist at Douglas College International told The PIE.

“It was not uncommon for some of them not to extend their study permits as they thought they could keep using the same study permits, which were still valid, or they started to extend their study permits too late.

“For this group of students, we felt very sorry for them as they could not start their college studies as planned because they did not have a study permit for post-secondary level,” Yao added.

“With the new policy, this group of student have more time to extend their study permits and, for most of them, they can still study in college even though their extensions are still in process.”

“With the new policy, this group of student have more time to extend their study permits”

Also announced this week was a new immigration pathway for international graduates of eligible post-secondary institutions in Saskatchewan who want to start a business in the west Canadian province.

Those who are approved will have to operate and manage a business in Saskatchewan for at least one year and own at least one-third of the equity in a qualified business in order to be eligible for a provincial nomination for permanent residence.

“This new category will help encourage international students to make Saskatchewan their home once they complete their studies,” said the province’s Advanced Education minister, Tina Beaudry-Mellor.

“It will also help create new businesses and jobs, as well as keep Saskatchewan competitive in attracting and retaining international students and investment,” added Immigration and Career Training minister, Jeremy Harrison.

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