24 February 2010

Biometric checks for Australian visa applications

The Australian Government has announced it will invest $69 million over the next four years to introduce biometric date checks for Australian Visa applications.

Australian Visa

Biometric data will have to be provided by Australian Visa applicants under new rules.

Biometric checks will be made to Australian visa applications being processed in 10 countries as part of a major strengthening of Australia's border security.

Under the new biometric system, all people applying to Australian Immigration for a visa in any of the 10 designated countries will be required to lodge their application and submit fingerprints and facial images at a visa application centre.

Biometric information, which uses measurable biological characteristics to establish a unique identity for a person,  will be recorded and cross-checked to confirm the true identity of visa applicants.

The biometric information will be able to be matched by the Australian Government with databases by Australia or any other participating international country, in a system that will be able to better identify terrorists, criminals and other people of concern.

Currently, Australia has biometric data-sharing agreements with the United Kingdom and Canada, and the United States and New Zealand will join the data-sharing arrangement this year.

The Australian program is being undertaken in collaboration with the UK Border Agency, which has a similar scheme already operating.

The 10 locations for the scheme have been selected on the basis of national security and fraud risks, locations where the Australian Government can use British biometric collection centres, and broad geographic coverage.

In a statement the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Evans, said establishing the identity of non-citizens is a fundamental part of both visa assessment and border processing, and that the use of biometrics is crucial to keeping Australia's borders secure.

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

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