Changes to the way biometric checks are carried out will catch fraudulent applications more quickly, according to Immigration New Zealand (INZ).
The Biometric Capability Update (BCU) project is due to be operational by the end of the year.
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INZ said comparing biometrics such as photographs and fingerprints reduced costs, enabled early detection of fraud, and made it harder for criminals and terrorists to slip through.
The upgrade would cut the number of cases which need human intervention during the visa application, travel authority and risk management processes.
"Fraud may hide a criminal record and/or adverse immigration history or be used falsely to claim refugee status," said INZ verification and compliance general manager Richard Owen.
"The solution ensures that the person presenting at the border and/or applying to enter is who they claim to be.
"The Biometric Capability Update project will deliver a significant upgrade to the existing INZ biometrics management, capture and matching solution. When completed, the upgrade will improve efficiency and lower the number of cases which need manual intervention to resolve."
A previous Privacy Impact Assessment of INZ's identity management system had been carried out with the office of the Privacy Commissioner.
"The BCU Project has conducted its own Privacy Impact Assessments to ensure the significant system update and any flow-on process changes continue to meet our privacy obligations," INZ said in a statement.
"It is important to note that the vast majority of people who come to New Zealand to live, work and play have good intentions and smart effective identity resolution is one area that can assist in helping Immigration New Zealand make informed decisions and expedite decision making for these customers.
"As the project is still underway, costings are not yet available."
As part of the Five Country Conference (FCC), or Migration 5, INZ receives and shares non-citizens' fingerprint information with the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. FCC countries can use the data to support prosecutions and deportations.