Fingerprints, photos required for Aus Visas

The Federal Government has ramped up Australia's immigration controls by requiring fingerprints and full-face photos to be supplied with all on-shore protection visas.

The Federal Government has ramped up Australia's immigration controls by requiring fingerprints and full-face photos to be supplied with all on-shore protection visas.

Passport

(Passport and Visa image by Josh Stewart, CC2.0)

The biometric data will also be required of people applying from 16 "selected" overseas locations.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen announced the $69 million move today as an expansion of existing biometric controls already used in airports. The news comes six weeks after New Zealand commenced a trial of biometrics technology in Customs.

Bowen said the technology will help combat visa fraud.

"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," Bowen said.

"The introduction of biometrics … 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."

Unisys will run the systems, but will have no responsibility for the collection of data under an existing $50 million deal with the government.

The government will today start biometrics processing for offshore Visas lodged in the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The system will be expanded to include other Asian and African countries "over the coming months", Bowen said.

Australia will share UK application centres to process some visas.

The Federal Government is also seeking to build an online portal for the submission of visas, which it says will help streamline processing.