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Mandatory fingerprinting for residence permit applications

Storing biometric information – digitised fingerprints and passport photos – in a central database makes it easier to check the identity of aliens applying for residence permits. This technology is already used to check the identity of asylum seekers. It will now also be used to control applications for family migration and residence permits for work or study. Biometric technology can help the Dutch authorities tackle identity fraud, document fraud and illegal immigration.

This is the thinking behind a bill submitted to Parliament by Minister for Immigration, Integration and Asylum Policy Gerd Leers.

Biometric information will be used by all government services involved with issuing and controlling residence permits: the Immigration and Naturalisation Service, the Aliens Police, the Seaport Police, the Royal Military and Border Police, the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers, the Custodial Institutions Agency, the Repatriation and Departure Service and diplomatic missions abroad.

People applying for a residence permit have to submit their fingerprints and passport photos only once. These biometric features are then digitised and stored in both a central database and on a chip embedded in the residence document itself. Thereafter, their identity can be confirmed with a fingerprint scan and a photo comparison of unchangeable facial features like the distances between the eyes, ears and chin.

Under the bill, nothing will change for asylum seekers, who already submit fingerprints and a photo with their application. This makes it possible to check whether they have previously submitted an asylum application in another European country or under another name in the Netherlands.

People who take a civic integration test abroad with the intention of coming to the Netherlands for the purpose of family formation or reunification are already required to identify themselves with fingerprints and a passport photo. In future, these will also be stored in a central database. This will enable the Netherlands to prevent residence permit fraud.

The use of biometric data is governed by the Personal Data Protection Act.

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