01 December 2010

Australian Visa and immigration security strengthened through biometrics

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The Australian Government has announced it will be introducing biometrics collection for all protection visa applicants' data lodged in Australia, as well as biometrics collection of visas processed in selected overseas locations.

Australian Visa

Biometrics will be expanded to new Australian Visa categories in the coming months.

The move will further strengthen border security and identity checking processes, the Australian immigration Minister Chris Bowen said.

“Biometric data is widely used in the international community as an effective tool to manage visa and immigration processes, improve identity management and combat fraud,” Mr Bowen said.

“The introduction of biometrics to onshore and offshore visa application processing is a tangible milestone on the path to even stronger border security for Australia and is critical to maintaining the integrity of our visa and migration programs.”

Biometrics data acquisition is already used in some Australian Visa and citizenship processes but has now been expanded to include all onshore protection visa applicants to help in establishing the identity of protection visa applicants who arrive in Australia but are often unable to provide sufficient documentation to prove their identity.

Biometric acquisition stations are available at Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) offices in Adelaide, ACT and Regions Office, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

The data is collected through a quick and non-intrusive process that captures a digital facial image as well as a 10-digit fingerprint scan using a dry fingerprint scanner machine.

Australia will also begin the phased introduction of biometric collection in offshore visa application processing, with the first stage of this program to include visa applications lodged in 16 countries, managed by 10 DIAC offices across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

From December, people lodging paper-based visa applications in Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia will be required to provide a digital facial photograph and a scan of their fingerprints as part of their visa application, regardless of their nationality.

Additional countries in Europe and Asia will be included in the program over the coming months.

Australia has signed an agreement to share some of the UK Border Agency's Visa Application Centres for the collection of biometrics.  

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their Australian Visa application with the Australian Embassy

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