Australia to introduce biometrics for visa applications

26 February 2008


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Australia will begin to introduce biometrics as part of their immigration processes, including visa applications. The collected biometrics will include facial images and fingerprint scans.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) stated that biometrics have aided them in a few cases, including uncovering illegal foreign fishers attempting to use multiple identities at the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin. In another case, biometrics helped identify a Ukrainian backpacker who turned up in a Brisbane hospital with amnesia.

DIAC cited an Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report that showed "substantial improvements" in the department's identity management capability, along with recommendations on further developing the biometrics program.

"DIAC has begun work on the four ANAO recommendations to develop an evaluation strategy, assess the costs and benefits of broadening biometric capability, strengthen assurance processes and enhance stakeholder involvement," said Senator Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship.

"Better identity management and the use of biometrics are fundamental in the fight against identity crime and to secure Australia's borders," he added. "It will also facilitate faster processing for genuine travellers."