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UK visas to take longer for some in Africa

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From 17 October 2005, it will take longer to process a UK visa when applications are made at Posts that are now carrying out fingerprint checks. Some visa applicants could wait for up to seven days for a decision on their visa application. This is a temporary measure and the Home Office is working with colleagues at the IND to reduce the response time.

The Home Office is currently recording biometric data in the form of electronic fingerprint scans from visa applicants applying at its visa sections in Sri Lanka, Uganda, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Tanzania and Rwanda.

The recorded fingerprint data is checked against records held by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) in the UK. It currently takes several days for the visa officer to receive the results of a fingerprint scan and a decision to issue a visa could be made before the fingerprint match result arrives.

The use of biometric technology produced significant results in identifying and deterring fraudulent visa applications and is part of the UK"s efforts to reduce asylum and immigration abuse. By 2008 UKvisas will introduce fingerprint scanning for all visa applicants.