Australian Immigration officials crack down on illegal workers and visa fraud with facial recognition

February 8, 2013 - 

Immigration officials in Australia are cracking down on visa fraud and illegal workers as a part of a national identity fraud campaign and are using facial recognition to aid the crackdown.

The massive campaign involves the cooperation of the state, Commonwealth and international agencies and has so far identified many visa over-stayers and illegal migrant workers.

“Employers should be aware it is a criminal offence to knowingly or recklessly allow a person to work illegally or to refer an illegal worker for work,” a spokesman for the Department of Immigration said in an interview with, adding that there are services available to employers to check the relevant identification details of prospective employees, with their consent, to quickly confirm if they are eligible to work in Australia.

Identity fraud costs the Australian government nearly $4 billion each year. Reported in, in Victoria, a region that was not using facial recognition at the time, fraud cost an estimated $200 million per year.

According to the report in, employers convicted of employing illegal workers face fines up to $13,200 and two years’ imprisonment while companies face fines of up to $66,000 per illegal worker.

Reported previously in last year, under changes to Australia’s privacy law, facial scans taken for passports, drivers’ licenses or nightclub entry can now be kept in law enforcement and spy agency databases.

Also last year, Australia’s Immigration and Citizenship Department published a new tender seeking updates to its biometrics system, specifically providing new facial and fingerprint recognition matching services. Though it’s not clear, it’s likely the facial recognition technology being used to crack down on illegal workers and visa over-stayers in the country came from this request for procurement.

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About Adam Vrankulj

Adam Vrankulj is an editor for His background consists of online news writing, editing and content marketing. Adam has written for, BlogTO and was the editor and curator for the nextMEDIA and CIX Source publications. He has a degree in journalism and is passionate about science, technology and social innovation. Contact Adam, or follow him at @adamvrankulj