Australia announces next step in visa security programme

Visa applicants will come under greater scrutiny in Australia with the announcement of a new risk assessment system to weed out undesirable or risky people.

The new visa risk assessment capability will be created inside in the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) with more details being readily available to officials.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said that it will consolidate immigration and border data, – enabling officials to more easily identify security risks before they grant visas.

“Decision makers will not have to go searching for the information. It will become an integral part of their processing system,” he explained.

Although the data will be available for every applicant Dutton said that it is designed to help weed out criminals and terrorists before they reach Australia’s borders and most people would be unaffected.

It means that those assessing visa applications will have access to databases from the Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Federal Police to identify those of interest at the visa application stage.

Currently the traditional risk assessment is limited to indicators that an individual plans to overstay their visa or work without clearance.

“Decision makers need to have the tools to take a closer look at a traveller’s broader criminal and security risks. They need to know much more about visa applicants and whether they pose a threat to the community,” Dutton added.

He also pointed out that the new system fits with the forthcoming shared facial recognition platform and smart gates at international airports as part of an overall package to tackle identity fraud and better assess risks.

All of this means that people’s details will be cross matched in a way never before seen in Australia with data and facial images cross checked between agencies involving information from passports, visas and even driving licences.

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