30 July 2008

New biometric system "tipped to cost tens of millions of dollars"

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The Labour Department has recently approved plans to revamp the immigration computer system in an attempt to tighten border security, reports the Dominion Post.

Changes to the Immigration Bill will allow immigration New Zealand to obtain biometric information from all non-citizen entrants to New Zealand.  A new centralised computer system will be required to replace the 54 disparate databases of immigration information so that all data can be amalgamated and easily accessed.

According to the newspaper, the computer upgrade will cost taxpayers "tens of millions of dollars", but will provide a platform from which biometric data stored in New Zealand can be used or compared with information from other countries. 

By using fingerprints and iris scans, Immigration New Zealand will be able to keep track of all foreign nationals who enter or leave the country.  Visitors to New Zealand also will require a New Zealand visa to enter the country (unless they are a visitor from a country participating in the visa waiver program).  All foreign nationals wanting to work in and move to New Zealand require a work permit or residency visa.  Immigration New Zealand will not let any persons through border control who do not have a correct passport or visa with relevant supporting documents.

The biometric data of New Zealanders will not be kept on the new computer system, but the identity of citizens entering or leaving the country will still be checked against their passports.

The new system will hopefully speed up the border control process, by allowing passengers to use self-automated border checks.

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people emigrate to New Zealand.

Article by Jessica Bird, New Zealand Visa Bureau.

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