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Thursday, 28 August 2003, 12:48 PM EST

The Government today announced plans to extend the use of biometric technology throughout the UK visa system in a crackdown against abuse of the immigration system.

Visitors seeking a UK visa will, in due course, be required to provide a biometric - fingerprints, iris or facial recognition scans - at point of application. The Home Office says the procedure will facilitate the cross-reference of data to prevent people staying here illegally or claiming asylum fraudulently.

A biometric technology pilot for visa applications in Sri Lanka began last month. Under the scheme launched today biometric visas will be extended to cover visitors from a far greater range of countries.

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