Skip to main content

Immigration: Biometrics

Volume 481: debated on Tuesday 21 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements are in place to examine and check the (a) fingerprints and (b) irises of (i) persons wishing to enter the UK at (A) an overseas post and (B) the UK border and (ii) persons who have entered the UK. (222705)

The global rollout of the biometric visas programme was completed at the end of 2007. All visa applicants are now required to provide their biometric data (fingerprints and digital photographs) when making an application.

We have successfully concluded trials involving the use of biometrics to verify the identity of holders of UK biometric visas seeking entry to the UK. Plans are being progressed to introduce a scheme in 2009, which will enable the biometric verification of all arriving passengers who have recorded their biometrics with the UK Border Agency. Proposals are also being developed to meet the longer term objective of ensuring that by the end of 2011, all non-EEA nationals have a biometrically enabled, secure, unique identity before being admitted.

Arrangements are currently in place at 10 terminals across four UK airports to examine and check the iris patterns of people wishing to enter the UK.

There are currently no arrangements in place to examine or check the irises of people at overseas posts, or the irises of those who have already entered the UK.

From the 25 November 2008, foreign nationals applying for leave to remain in certain student categories or as spouses, civil partners or unmarried couples will be required to provide biometric features, including a facial image and 10 fingerprints. These will be checked against existing databases for matches. Successful applicants will be issued with an identity card for foreign nationals. This follows on from a pilot which started on the 28 April 2008.