Identity security strengthened through biometrics
Wednesday, 01 December 2010
Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, today announced the Gillard Government is introducing biometrics collection of all protection visa applicants' data lodged in Australia, as well as biometrics collection of visas processed in selected overseas locations, to further strengthen border security and identity checking processes.
‘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 immigration and citizenship processes but has now been expanded to include all onshore protection visa applicants.
‘This initiative will assist in establishing the identity of protection visa applicants who arrive in Australia but are often unable to provide sufficient documentation to prove their identity, and strengthen our ability to detect inconsistent immigration claims,’ Mr Bowen said.
‘It is important to note that these new requirements will enhance, but not replace, the current process for assessing an applicant's claims for protection under the Refugees Convention. People who are owed protection under Australia's international obligations will continue to be granted protection. People who are found to not be owed protection will be returned.
‘My department has put measures in place to ensure applicants are treated fairly and that flexible arrangements are available for those who live in remote areas.’
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, discreet 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, to complement the expansion of biometrics collection to all onshore protection visa applicants.
The first stage of the offshore program includes 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,’ Mr Bowen said.
‘Additional countries in Europe and Asia will be included in the program over the coming months.’
Australia is collaborating with the United Kingdom on this initiative and has signed an agreement to share some of the UK Border Agency's Visa Application Centres for the lodgement of Australian visa applications and the collection of biometrics.
Last update: Thursday, 09 December 2010 at 16:05 AEST