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Biometrics speeds up visa-processing by days

The time taken to check the identity of visa applicants is down from two days to less than 30 minutes, according to the government
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Written by Nick Heath, Contributing Writer on

Biometric technology has slashed the time taken to process visas for people coming to the UK, the government has said.

UKvisas, the UK's visa checking agency, said it has cut the time taken to check the identity of visa applicants from two days to less than 30 minutes.

The system speeds up the process by checking a visa applicant's ID and biometrics against a database held in the UK.

It has been rolled out in stages since last year and has already handled more than one million visa applicants.

The link to UK databases also helps to ensure visas are not granted to people previously removed from the country or travelling under a false ID.

Fingerprint scans and a digital photograph have been taken from all UK visa applicants since January 2008 at all of the UK's 150-plus issuing posts.

Tony Mercer, network operations director at UKvisas, said in a statement: "We had to increase the accuracy of our immigration decisions, as well as ensure visa application turnaround time met our public service agreement targets."

He said the system, provided by PA Consulting Group and Software AG, was far more efficient than relying on manually checking biometrics.

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