Effective today, select Visa Application Centres (VACs) across India will reopen to issue biometrics and other services.
The High Commission of Canada in India released via tweet that starting Nov. 20, VACs in the following Indian cities would resume services:
VACs in Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, and Hyderabad remain temporarily closed.
What services are on offer?
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, VACs across the world are offering limited services. The VACs in India are focusing on offering biometrics, an essential requirement for many classes of Canadian visas. They are prioritizing study permit principal applicants and family sponsorship candidates at this time.
It’s unclear from the announcement if the VACs are only accepting study permit holders and family sponsorship cases, or if those candidates simply receive priority over others.
To obtain your biometrics from the VAC, candidates must have a unique Biometrics Instructions Letter (BIL) from IRCC and schedule an appointment. In other words, you cannot simply show up. You need to make prior arrangements to collect your biometrics until further notice.
Why are only family class and student permit applications prioritized?
The government has made special exemptions from Canadian travel restrictions for international students. Students can come to Canada to study if their school has an approved COVID-19 readiness plan. But without completed biometrics, new students can’t get their full student visa to come to Canada.
For family sponsorship, it’s a similar case to why international students receive priority. Most new permanent residents cannot land in Canada unless their visa was approved prior to March 13, 2020, because of the ongoing pandemic. Spousal sponsorship applicants are one of the few classes of Canadian permanent residents that can land in Canada at any time. But to obtain their visa, they need their biometrics.
What are biometrics?
If an effort to make travel easier while also protecting Canadians, biometrics are required by most applicants, although many classes of workers are temporarily exempt from the requirement. Biometrics require the collection of your fingerprints and your photo to confirm your identity.
The primary purpose of requiring biometrics is to stop identity theft, prevent criminals from entering Canada, and to make it easier for immigration officials to confirm your identity at a Canadian port of entry.