The Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, has announced the introduction of biometrics collection for visa applicants in Syria, Malaysia, Lebanon, Kenya, Jordan and France.
'Biometrics collection will commence in Syria and Malaysia in April, and in Kenya, Jordan, Lebanon and France throughout May,' Bowen said.
'Visa applicants in these countries who submit paper application forms will need to provide a digital facial photograph and fingerprint scans at visa application centres – located in Damascus, Kuala Lumpur, Beirut, Nairobi, Amman and Paris – as part of the visa process.'
People who apply online and are eligible for an electronic visa will not need to provide their biometrics at this stage.
Biometrics are already being collected in Bahrain, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Zimbabwe. More than 8000 overseas visa applicants have had their biometrics collected since the commencement of the program in December 2010.
'This delivers on the government’s commitment to introduce the new technology into visa processing,' Bowen said.
'Australia is working closely with like-minded governments and international organisations to better manage identity, migration and border security processes. Collecting biometrics further strengthens Australia’s border security and identity checking processes and will assist my department to verify the identity of visa applicants in any future visa encounters.'
Australia and the UK have signed an agreement to share a global network of visa application centres with biometrics collection facilities. The government has signed contracts with the UK Border Agency’s two service providers – Visa Facilitation Services Global and Computer Sciences Corporation Worldbridge – to provide visa facilitation and biometric services within these shared application centres.