Biometrics testing introduced for applicants of Australia Visa

Published 7 December 2009

Australia begins to collect biometric information seeking protection under the Australian Visa program; for the next six months, the program will be implemented in Sydney and Melbourne and will be voluntary; at the end of the pilot the government will consider national compulsory expansion of the process.

Australian Immigration has announced that biometric information will now be collected from people seeking a protection Australian Visa under a new identity security initiative. The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, made the announcement of the new initiative that will be rolled out in Sydney and Melbourne.

Protection Australian Visa applicants in these two cities will now be asked to provide a digital facial image and a scan of their fingerprints, which will be recorded and referred to for identification purposes. The initiative will enable Australian Immigration to help keep Australian borders secure and maintain the identity of the Australian migration program.

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,” Senator Evans said. “This is part of Australia’s ongoing cooperation with other countries such as the U.K. and Canada to strengthen international border and immigration management through the secure and confidential cross-checking of identity information.”

Australian Immigration has already successfully rolled out biometrics collection from immigration detainees and illegal foreign fishers. The data-sharing arrangements under the Five Countries Conference (FCC) processes also allows Australia to check fingerprints collected through the protection visa process against the biometric records of the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada.

This check will determine whether the person has an immigration record or has previously applied for protection in those countries, and data-sharing trials under these arrangements have already proven effective in identifying criminals and bogus asylum seekers.

Participation in the initiative will be voluntary and limited to applicants in Sydney and Melbourne for the first six months, and at the end of the pilot the government will consider national compulsory expansion of the process.