Visa Glossary/Biometrics


What is the meaning of biometrics?

Biometrics refers to a method of identifying an individual based on their unique physical characteristics. This technology plays a crucial role in the visa application process by ensuring that each applicant is accurately identified, adding a layer of security to international travel.

Detailed explanation

Biometrics technology measures and analyses personal physical features, such as fingerprints, facial structures, and sometimes iris patterns. In the context of visa applications, biometrics are collected to secure and streamline the identification process. This data is crucial for preventing identity theft and fraud and ensuring the person applying for the visa intends to travel.

Biometrics is not required on all visa applications. The requirement will depend on each country's policy and the type of visa you apply for.

How do you provide your biometrics?

The biometric data collection process is straightforward and non-invasive. Applicants must visit a visa application centre or embassy where trained personnel collect fingerprints and take digital photos. In some cases, an iris scan might also be performed. This process adds an important security layer to the visa issuance procedure.

Types of biometrics data

Different countries collect specific types of biometric data based on their individual security policies and requirements:

  • Fingerprints: The most commonly collected form of biometric data, offering a high level of accuracy in identification.

  • Facial recognition: Used for automated border control gates and to match individuals with their passport photos.

  • Iris scans: Less common but highly secure, used in some high-security contexts or for travellers enrolled in expedited border crossing programs.

Visa types and biometrics relevance

Biometrics are a standard requirement across various visa categories, including:

  • Tourist visaTourist visa: Certain countries have strict visa policies, which require you to provide your biometrics for a tourist visa application.

  • Work visa: Essential for verifying employees moving to a new country for job purposes.

  • Student visaStudent visa: Used to confirm the identities of students planning to study abroad. Certain student visa applications require biometric data as part of the application process to ensure security and identity verification.

Is providing biometrics mandatory for all visa types?

No, it is not mandatory for all visa applications. It depends on the country and visa type.

How long is biometric data stored?

Storage duration varies by country and is governed by national laws and international agreements.

Can biometrics be reused for future visa applications?

Yes, some countries have arrangements to reuse biometrics for subsequent applications within a certain timeframe, reducing the need for frequent data collection.

Can I provide my biometrics from home?

No, you must visit an application centre or embassy when providing your biometrics.