Operational Bulletin 540-A – December 16, 2014
Verification of Permanent Resident Photos at Visa Offices
This Operational Bulletin (OB) provides instructions to officers at various visa offices. It directs them on:
- Their responsibilities concerning the verification of photos submitted along with Applications for Permanent Residence (APR) and,
- The manner in which they would be able to assess whether the photos submitted meet the required specifications
The authorities grant people with permanent resident status. These individuals then initiate the processing of a Permanent Resident Card (PRC) automatically. They do so once they get the confirmation of that status. Thereafter, the Permanent Resident Card (PRC) captures the photograph that applicants submitted along with their Applications for Permanent Residence (APR).
For these reasons, it is important that the photograph complies with the prescribed specifications for a proper photo. In some situations, the authorities might find the photograph to be non-compliant. In these situations, the clients would need to retake their photos. This usually delays the processing of the Permanent Resident Card (PRC). Current estimates highlight the fact that nearly 15 percent of applicants need to retake their photos.
Therefore, the authorities have focused on reducing the number of photo retakes. This is especially so once the client has arrived in Canada. To achieve this, the authorities have instructed visa offices to pay closer attention to the photographs. In particular, they have asked visa offices to check whether the photographs submitted meet the prescribed specifications.
Visa offices are typically the first point of contact with clients. Therefore, they have the ability to identify and catch non-compliant photos. This is especially significant before the authorities grant the client permanent resident status. The authorities expect that the early detection of non-compliant photos will:
- Help in speeding up the Permanent Resident Card (PRC) process and,
- Reduce the additional work carried out by:
- The various ports of entry
- Local Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) offices and,
- The Permanent Resident Card Centre of the Case Processing Centre in Sydney, Nova Scotia
Applicants typically submit the Applications for Permanent Residence (APRs) at a visa office. On receiving these Applications for Permanent Residence (APRs), the registry clerk would need to confirm that the clients have submitted proper photographs.
For this, the registry clerks would need to examine the photographs. They would need to check that the client took the photograph:
- Within the last six months
- By a commercial photographer and,
In addition, the registry clerk would need to ensure that the photograph meets the prescribed photo specifications.
Among other details, the registry clerk would need to check that the applicants have mentioned the following details on the back of one photo:
- The complete name of the photo studio
- The complete address of the photo studio
- The date the photographer took the client’s photo
- The full name of the applicant and,
- The date of birth of the applicant
In addition, the registry clerk would need to ensure that the second photograph submitted by the client is blank.
The authorities have prescribed various other instructions to officers in visa offices. When examining photographs, visa offices would need to pay close attention to certain common errors. These errors typically appear on non-compliant photos. Such errors would usually comprise:
- Altered originals
- Photographs taken from an existing photograph
- Photographs that have the subject out of focus
- Photographs with an incorrect photograph background i.e. a background that is not white in colour
- Photographs taken in poor light or dim conditions
- Photographs that depict shadows on the client’s face, especially in the area around the ears and,
- Photographs that have an incorrect head size i.e. photographs where the client’s head appears as being too large
In some cases, the registry clerk might find that the photograph submitted does not meet the required specifications. In this scenario, the clerk would return the photo to the applicant. In addition, the clerk would also give the client copies of Appendix A and / or Appendix B (see note below). Moreover, the clerk would need to give the clients the relevant instructions for submitting the new photos.
It is worth noting that officers can continue to process the application as usual. This is applicable even though the officers might not have received the new and compliant photographs. However, officers would need to note that they cannot finalise the application in this scenario. They would only be able to finalise the application once they receive the new photographs from the client.
The authorities have also given other instructions to visa offices. They have asked visa offices to keep the compliant photos on file. This is especially applicable when the visa offices print the Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR). Visa offices would need to use a photo patch (or a double-sided tape) for mounting the photo on to the Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR). However, visa offices would need to ensure that the photo mounted on to the Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) is the one that does not have the client’s details listed on the back of the photo.
Visa offices might need to order photo patches for carrying out these instructions. Therefore, they could place an order for these photo patches by using the form Requisition for Non-Controlled Immigration Forms (IMM 1389). Here, the visa offices would need to select the item “CIC 0108B – Photo Patch / Pièce encollée pour photo”. They would be able to locate this item in the dropdown menu. Thereafter, they would need to key in the number of packages they require.
- Clients would need to refer to Appendix A given on the website of Citizenship and Immigration website
- Appendix A contains the details on the Permanent Resident Card (PRC) Photo Specifications
- This document contains a complete list of specifications that clients would need to follow to ensure that their photographs meet the prescribed specifications
- Clients would also need to refer to Appendix B given on the website of Citizenship and Immigration website
- Appendix B contains the details on the Photo Specifications, along with notes to the applicant and the photographer
Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)