Personal Identifiers (Biometrics) Waiver

Under the Migration Act, a citizen or a non-citizen may be required to provide personal identifiers (Biometrics) to the Department of Home Affairs.

For the purposes of the Migration Act and the Australian Citizenship Act, a ‘personal identifier’ is defined to mean any of the following (including any of the following in digital form):

• “fingerprints or handprints of a person (including those taken
using paper and ink or digital live scanning technologies);
• a measurement of a person’s height and weight;

• a photograph or other image of a person’s face and

• an audio or a video recording of a person (Migration Act

• an iris scan;

• a person’s signature;

• any other identifier prescribed by the Migration Regulations
1994 or the Australian Citizenship Regulations 2007
(whichever is relevant), other than an identifier the obtaining
of which would involve the carrying out of an intimate
forensic procedure within the meaning of section 23WA of
the Crimes Act 1914 (provided it meets the description of an
image, measurement or recording of an external part of the

Throughout the pandemic, our office successfully waived the Biometrics requirement for a number of our clients. Further, after overcoming the Biometrics requirement, we were able to obtain priority processing for certain visa applicants and obtain travel exemptions so visa holders could travel to Australia.

When can you waive Biometrics?

Under Section 40(3) or Section 46 (2A) of the Migration Act 1958 an applicant may be required to provide Biometrics.

A Delegate can consider waiving the operation of s 40 (3) or s 46 (2A) if a visa applicant requests for a waiver or even if no request for waiver is made by a visa applicant.

As a matter of Department policy, requests to waive the requirement to provide Biometrics must be made in writing (by letter, fax or email).

If a request is received, officers may request further information from the applicant in order to ascertain the circumstances preventing the applicant from being able to comply with the requirement to provide personal identifiers.

Under Department policy, the five grounds for waiver of Biometrics are:

  •       operational reason to retract the requirement;
  •       emergency and/or compassionate situations;
  •       compelling circumstances affecting the interest of Australia;
  •       in-country crisis situations; and
  •    representations from other Commonwealth agencies or host government.

Written by Amy Khan, Clerk at RSG Lawyers and Associates.
Reviewed and approved by Farhan Rehman.

RSG Lawyers and Associates
Footnotes available upon request.