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The UK digitizes a key biometric visa application process in Hong Kong with selfie matching

The UK digitizes a key biometric visa application process in Hong Kong with selfie matching

Continuing in its commitment to protect Hong Kong natives facing Chinese political repression, the UK government has made it easier for holders of biometric passports to apply for the British National (Overseas) visa.

The UK has digitized the process of applying for the coveted BN(O) visa, which could offer a way out of the tiny former British colony if Beijing continues to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Using a new app, Hongkongers who have a BN(O) visa as well as eligible family members who also hold that visa (or two other specialized British visas) now can send their biometric data electronically to verify their identity, rather than having to attend a Visa Application Centre in person.

The app prompts the user to perform a face scan for comparison against the biometric image contained on the passport chip. iProov is providing its face biometrics for immigration processes through mobile apps as a party to a multi-year deal signed with the UK Home Office in 2018.

The app is called UK Immigration: ID Check, and it verifies that the document holder’s identity and that the document belongs to the applicant. Those using the software take a photo of their passport’s picture page and scan the document’s chip using their Android or iPhone to extract biometric data.

The UK has published tips on how to apply for the UK Immigration: ID Check.

Aside from being a debatable check on Chinese takeover ambitions, UK government officials say the move is another step toward completely digitizing their overall immigration procedures. Those steps also include the launch of an app for biometric identity verification for visa applications last year.

China ceased recognizing the BN(O) as a legitimate travel credential just weeks ago.

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