The Australian Government has a biometrics collection programme in place which involves a digital scan and imaging of a visa applicant’s fingerprints and face.
Selected visa subclasses lodged in participating countries require the collection of biometrics as part of the visa application process. The collection of fingerprints and facial images are intended to reduce the likelihood of identity fraud and integrity risks.
Visa applicants lodging their visa application in person at an Australian Visa Application Centre will be required to provide their biometrics at the same time. If you are applying for a visa online or by post, the Department of Home Affairs will send a letter requesting for a biometrics collection to be arranged before a decision on the visa can be made.
What do they do with our biometrics data?
Biometrics data is stored on secure databases managed by the Department of Home Affairs. Access to this data is protected and regulated by law. This information can only be shared with other Australian Government departments, agencies, international organisations and countries in order to verify identity, combat fraud and checking a person’s criminal history.
What does the process involve?
If the Department of Home Affairs has sent a letter requesting for a biometrics collection, an appointment will need to be made with the Australian Visa Application Centre (AVAC) or Australian Biometrics Collection Centre (ABCC) beforehand. Appointments can be organised with the collection centre located in the relevant country.
Biometrics collection is a quick, non-invasive and discreet process taking no more than 15 minutes. Digital photographs are taken of the face as well as a 10-digit digital fingerprint scan. There is a service fee for this process which is payable at the time of the appointment to the collection centre. Fees vary depending on the collection centre.
Each time a person from a participating country applies for a visa to Australia, they will need to provide their biometrics. Therefore, one biometrics collection process will not cover for multiple visa applications to Australia.
Can I be exempt from the process?
The only exemptions available are for those who are under 5 years of age, an incapable person or anyone physically unable to provide a fingerprint scan. People in these categories will only need to provide a facial image. Under the Migration Act, an incapable person is a person who is incapable of understanding the general nature and effect of, and purposes of, a requirement to provide biometrics.
Visa subclasses and participating countries
The collection of biometrics for the purposes of a visa application to Australia is only applicable to selected visa subclasses and countries participating in the biometrics collection programme. A list of these visa subclasses and countries can be found in the following link: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/visa/biom/biometrics-countries
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