Commission orders biometric data for non-EU nationals

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald

Residents’ permits for non- EU nationals living in Ireland must have biometric identifiers, the European Commission has ordered.

The deadline to include a biometric facial image and two fingerprints in the identity cards was more than three years ago. All migrants are supposed to be identified and fingerprinted in whatever country they first enter the EU, and the information is then loaded onto an EU-wide system that can be accessed by the security authorities in all EU states.

The Department of Justice said work is well under way and it is working with the commission to complete the project which would mean all “third-country nationals” living in the EU (people applying for visas in countries that are not their country of origin in order to go to a destination country which is also not their country of origin) would have the same card.

The identifiers, which are considered less susceptible to fraud than the current cards distributed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau, are now becoming vital with the influx of migrants into the EU over the past year.

However, the department said that current registration certificates issued to all non-EU nationals who stay in the country for more than three months have many security features — including a chip-protected biometric fingerprint.

In a statement, the European Commission said the biometric identifiers are now required under EU law, and have been since May 20, 2012: “The harmonisation of security features and the integration of biometric identifiers is an important step towards more secure documents and better protection against fraud”.

It asked the Irish authorities to implement the legislation in the next two months, and warned that if they fail to do so, they may be referred to the Court of Justice — a process which could take a number of years.

Ireland is among a large number of member states issued with warnings or threatened with infringement decisions by the European Commission this week over refugees and migrants.

Over the next two years we will take 3,500 people eligible for asylum, mainly Syrians, from Italy and Greece.


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