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A new international agreement will boost Australia’s ability to detect and identify immigration fraud and cast a wider net when checking the backgrounds of unauthorised arrivals and other people held in immigration detention.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said today that an agreement for biometric data-sharing between Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom was signed last night. Under the partnership, Australia will be able to securely and confidentially cross check fingerprints with Canadian and UK databases.

Currently, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship collects fingerprints from all people in immigration detention, including irregular arrivals and illegal foreign fishers. It is expected fingerprint collection will be progressively rolled out to other people in the immigration caseload in the future.

‘The Australian Government’s ability to detect immigration and identity fraud will be greatly improved as a result of new biometric data-sharing arrangements with partner agencies in Canada and the United Kingdom,’ Senator Evans said. ‘This data-sharing will help to establish the true identities of unknown people, and ensure that fraudulent cases are dealt with appropriately through the improved ability to detect inconsistent identity and immigration claims.

It will also help authorities to increase the chance of detecting people with criminal histories and other people of concern, aid in the timely removal of unlawful non-citizens where their identities and/or nationalities were previously unknown or uncertain, and improve detection of fraudulent immigration practices and trends.

The new biometric data-sharing plan was developed at the Five Country Conference, which is a forum on immigration and border security between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The US is expected to join the data-sharing arrangement in due course.

The benefits of international biometric data sharing were highlighted recently when an individual claiming asylum in the UK was found to have previously been fingerprinted in the USA while travelling on an Australian passport.

The individual was subsequently confirmed as an Australian citizen wanted for sexual assault. The man was removed to Australia to face court, and is now serving a jail sentence.

Senator Evans said the new data-sharing arrangements would not affect privacy laws.

‘The protection of personal information is important to all the countries involved in these arrangements. All data shared by my department will adhere to the Privacy Act 1988,’ the minister said.

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Allegations of cheating by students in immigration exams has seen the launch of a corruption investigation.

Australia’s largest international student service, IDP Australia, is investigating possible corruption among its staff after students in Sydney were caught cheating on exams it conducts for the Department of Immigration, The Sun-Herald newspaper reports.

Copies of the May International English Language Testings System (IELTS) exam were sold for between $12,000 and $18,000, one source claims.

“These have been leaking out for months,” the source told newspaper.

“It’s like a chain of command. It came from the official service who gives it out and takes his cut.

IDP would not confirm how many people had been caught cheating.

“Cheating in IELTS tests is not commonplace,” an IDP Australia spokeswoman said.

“‘However given the high stakes involved, attempts to cheat or engage in other fraudulent activity such as identity fraud do occur.

“Recently in Australia a number of test takers have been detected in their attempt to cheat in the IELTS test. Whether or not it was an internal problem, we don’t know.”

IDP is investigating the matter.

Meanwhile, the Immigration Department has defended its outsourcing of English tests, which have been handled by IDP since 1994.

Source  :  www.ninemsn.com.au

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