For some people, the process of applying for a visa ends once the visa application has been lodged. All they have do is to sit back and wait for their visa to be granted. For other people the process can be more involved. Lots of people need to attend a medical appointment at an approved visa clinic or medical centre. Depending on your country of passport you may also need to provide something called ‘Personal Identifiers’.
So what are ‘Personal Identifiers’?
‘Personal Identifiers’, or PIDs or ‘biometrics’, are the features that identify you as you. The most common biometric records are your fingerprints, but the Department may also take a digital photo of your face. The Department of Home Affairs has recently expanded its biometrics programs to enable decision makers to identify instances of identity fraud. Identity fraud is a worldwide problem.
When will I need to provide my biometrics?
The Department will request a visa applicant’s biometrics if they are (1) making an application from a specified country and (2) applying for a specified visa. Here is a table to help you figure out whether the Department’s decision makers are likely to ask you to provide your biometrics:
I am applying for a…
..and I’m making an application in..
Partner Visa (subclass 309/subclass 100)
Prospective Marriage (subclass 300)
Child (subclass 101)
Visitor (subclass 600)
Student (subclass 500)
Student Guardian (subclass 590)
Working Holiday (subclass 417)
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Work and Holiday (subclass 462)
Temporary Skills Shortage (subclass 482)
Dependent Child (subclass 445)
NZ Family Relationship (subclass 461)
Medical Treatment (subclass 602)
Adoption (subclass 102)
Aged Dependent Relative (subclass 114)
Remaining Relative (subclass 115)
Carer (subclass 116)
Orphan Relative (subclass 117)
Temporary Work (subclass 400)
Temporary Work (International Relations)(subclass 403)
Temporary Activity (subclass 408)
Refugee (subclass 200)
In-country Special Humanitarian (subclass 201)
Global Special Humanitarian (subclass 202)
Emergency Rescue (subclass 203)
Woman at Risk (subclass 204)
Temporary Protection (785)
Safe Haven Enterprise (subclass 790)
Protection (subclass 866)
If you are applying for a visa listed in the first column and you’re lodging an application in a country in the second column, then you should expect to be requested to provide your biometrics. You don’t need to be a citizen of a country in the second column, it’s all about where you are when you lodge the application. This means that citizen of the United Kingdom lodging a listed visa application in Kenya will need to provide their biometrics, but a Kenyan citizen lodging an application in the United Kingdom will not.
How do I provide my biometrics?
If you lodge an application outside of Australia you will need to provide your biometrics at an Australian Visa Application Centre (AVAC) or an Australian Biometrics Collection Centre (ABCC). In certain circumstances you can lodge your application at an AVAC or an ABCC and you can provide your biometrics while you are there. Otherwise, you must make an appointment to come into the AVAC or ABCC so that your biometrics can be collected.
Are there any exceptions?
Yes, the Department will not collect fingerprints if the person is:
- Younger than 5 years old (outside of Australia) or younger than 10 years old (for applicants within Australia)
- Incapable of understanding what biometrics are for
- Physically unable to provide fingerprints
What if I wear glasses or a religious head covering?
You can request that your photo and fingerprints are collected in private and you can ask to have your biometrics collected by someone of the same gender. You will still need to provide a photo of your face where your face is clearly visible from the bottom of your chin to above your eyebrows, including both cheeks and both ears.
Are there any other things that I should be aware of?
It is important to know where your nearest AVAC or ABCC are before you lodge your visa application. The Department does not have an AVAC or ABCC in every city in every country and so you should be prepared to travel a fair distance if you live in a large country.
There are some countries listed in the second column that do not have an AVAC or ABCC in country. In these circumstances, you will need to travel to a second country to provide your biometrics. For example, applicants who have lodged an application in Afghanistan will need to travel to another country to provide their biometrics – most commonly Pakistan or the United Arab Emirates. It is important to note that AVACs and ABCCs in India do not have the facilities to collect biometrics as India is not a country listed in the second column.
I provided my biometrics in a previous visa application – do I have to do them again?
Yes, you cannot transfer biometrics from a previous application. The Department uses biometrics to identify people coming into Australia and requires a new set of new biometrics for each application.