Biometric information checks will now help confirm the identity of New Zealand Visa applicants and strengthen border security.
16 August 2010
New Zealand immigration commence fingerprint checks
Immigration New Zealand has commenced fingerprint checks with Australia as part of a biometric programme to strengthen border security and prevent identity fraud.
The biometric program will expand to share information with the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States under the umbrella of the Five Country Conference (FCC). The FCC has developed a system with substantial privacy safeguards for securely matching fingerprint biometrics of persons of interest.
Biometric information uniquely distinguishes one person from another and can be used to establish a record of and confirm an individual’s identity.
Biometric information from foreign nationals, including photographs of all or part of a person’s head or shoulders, fingerprints, and iris scans, are collected as part of the application for a New Zealand Visa.
The biometric sharing system will help combat immigration fraud and strengthen border security by helping identify, early in the immigration process, people with criminal histories or those using false identities.
Fingerprints of FCC citizens will not be shared.
“Organised crime groups and illegal migrants are increasingly using identity and passport fraud to evade detection,” said Arron Baker, Immigration New Zealand’s Programme Manager for Identity and Biometrics.
“Biometrics uses technology to improve on traditional checks using names to detect and prevent these people from entering New Zealand. It is a fast, effective and privacy protecting way of quickly facilitating genuine clients while filtering out those who pose risks to New Zealand.”
INZ signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship on 30 June 2010, and is now completing similar agreements with the UK, Canada and the US.
The Department of Labour completed a Privacy Impact Assessment of the system in close consultation with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. This is available to the public at www.immigration.govt.nz.