Australian Biometrics Collection Centre: Quick and Secure Identification Process

Australian Biometrics Collection Centre

Students from countries participating in the biometrics collection process will need to attend an Australian Biometrics Collection Centre (ABCC). This is a quick, discreet and non-intrusive process that captures a facial image with a digital camera and a fingerprint scan using a digital fingerprint scanner.

The Department of Home Affairs has awarded a contract to VFS Global to provide the service at 165 locations across the Americas, Mekong, Middle East and North Africa, North Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia.

What is a biometric?

Biometrics are a set of digital security methods that use physical attributes to identify and verify a person’s identity. These include physical features (such as fingerprints, iris, face and palm/vein patterns), as well as behavioural characteristics (like keystroke patterns). They are generally more secure than traditional passwords and PINs which can be easily compromised or guessed.

Service designers should be aware that cultural and religious factors may limit an individual’s ability to enrol in a biometric system and provide appropriate alternatives for those who cannot participate. They should also ensure that there are transparent complaint and enquiries systems, as well as clear avenues for redress, for individuals whose biometric information is incorrectly used or disclosed. The redress mechanisms should be informed by IPP 2 of the PDP Act.

What are the requirements for biometrics?

The embassy or consulate will send you a notice to attend a biometrics appointment at the Offsite Facilitation Center (OFC) or Australian Biometrics Collection Centre (ABCC). Make sure you bring a printed copy of your US visa application barcode number on the DS-160 confirmation page, one recent passport-style photograph that is clearly showing your face and full frontal view, your completed DS-160 form and all supporting documentation.

At the OFC or ABCC, an immigration officer will scan your 10 fingerprints using a digital scanner. It is important that your fingers are free from decoration, abrasions, cuts or permanent markings such as mehndi/henna. The officer will also take a digital photo of you.

Once the process is complete, you will receive a stamp on your appointment letter that confirms you attended. Keep this in a safe place as it can help you prove that you did attend your biometrics appointment if you are ever asked to do so.

Can I transfer biometrics from a previous application?

The Department does not transfer biometrics from one application to another. You will have to provide new biometrics each time you apply for a visa. The biometrics collection process consists of the scanning of 10 fingerprints and a digital facial image photograph. The collection can take less than 15 minutes.

It is important to note that the digital scanner can only read your fingerprints if your hands are clean. Therefore, it is advisable to bring hand lotion with you for your appointment.

In addition, it is also a good idea to wear loose clothing with a clear front so that the facial image taken can be clearly seen. It is not recommended to wear hats, scarfs or any other items that obscure the face or neck (with the exception of religious head coverings detailed below). Moreover, it is also a good idea to avoid eating or drinking prior to your appointment. This will help prevent any spillage or stains that may impact the quality of your photographs.

Can I be exempt from providing biometrics?

In very rare circumstances you may be able to excuse an individual from the requirement to provide biometrics. The exceptions are set out in section R12.8 of the Immigration Rules.

Individuals who claim that they are physically unable to attend a centre must supply satisfactory medical evidence. In such cases a senior official can agree to defer the biometric enrolment, or where appropriate re-use previously enrolled data.

For children aged under 16 who cannot attend a centre it is essential that you enrol their biometrics in the presence of a responsible adult. This is an adult who takes responsibility for the child, such as their parent or legal guardian.

Applicants lodged with Australian missions overseas will need to visit a local Australian Biometrics Collection Centre (ABCC) in person to have their 10-digit fingerprint scan and digital facial photograph taken. This is a new requirement for people lodging visa applications from overseas. The program began at selected locations in late 2010. As the rollout continues ABCCs will be located at Australian missions around the world.

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