back to article UK's visa fingerprint system fails

The UK Border Agency, which became fully independent this month, is already celebrating its first technology failure - the system by which applicants for UK visas must send their fingerprints to London for checking went down last week. A Reg reader got in touch because his South American sister-in-law was having trouble …


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  1. Evil Auditor

    let me guess...

    all the fingerprints were on a laptop which someone left on a train or whatoever. But don't worry! the bios password prevents the computer from being booted by unauthorised people.


  2. Wize

    10 fingerprints?

    That's discrimination against anyone who has lost a finger.

    Mines the one with the microwave burger in the pocket (you'll get it if you've seen the ad)

  3. censored

    Fingerprints for a visa?

    I hasn't realised we'd gone about 100 steps further than the paranoid US Border Control.

    If I were in the rest of the world, I wouldn't bother coming here. Much as I refuse to even transit through the US.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What happened about those student terrorists

    What happened to those student-visa terrorists?,2933,514026,00.html

    One minute I heard they were terrorists linked to Al Qaeda, and had been monitored for weeks, and lucky for the UK they were because they'd been caught photographing famous buildings and were about to launch a bombing campaign against Manchester.

    The next I heard they were to be deported instead and there appeared to be no evidence against them.... like every time Jacqui Smith embarrasses herself, the witnesses have to be deported because she can't stand the shame.

  5. Ed


    It's discrimination against anyone who has the usual compliment of eight fingers.

  6. Trevor
    Thumb Up


    No it's not, nothing says it has to be 10 unique finger prints.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    10 fingerprints?

    I can provide eight fingerprints and two thumbprints would that suffice please?

  8. Grahame

    Fast paced public sector

    "Then she was told the system was down, and had been intermittently since the 2nd. Staff were unable to tell her when it would be working again" ...

    "A Home Office spokesperson said: “We can confirm that there was a small issue with our on-line visa application process but this was quickly fixed by the 6/4.""

    Small issue, quickly fixed. Oh.. how relaxed the life of a Home Office techie must be..

  9. DavCrav

    @ 10 fingerprints?

    "That's discrimination against anyone who has lost a finger."

    And against people with thumbs...

  10. Dennis
    Black Helicopters


    Was it just my paranoia that caused me to read it as "The UK Brother Agency".

    Still, the 10 fingerprint requirement is a good wheeze to keep Abu Hamza look-alikes out of the country.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    If only we'd known earlier....

    .. that taking the computers offline would have kept immigrants out of the UK, we could have saved ourselves millions.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    Is there any checks / finger printing of those (like me) highly skilled workers LEAVING the UK in disgust at the total chaos that is our government.

  13. Andy Worth

    I love the wording.....

    "a small issue with our on-line visa application process".........

    as in it wasn't working

    "but this was quickly fixed"

    4 days for a critical system is not a "quick" fix. Or if it is then I want to work there!

  14. Anonymous Coward


    Jacqui and crew don't understand thumbs because they haven't evolved any yet.

  15. Laura Witters
    Paris Hilton

    Not the first time!

    Can't say this story surprises me, hubby and I had to travel up to Glasgow (3 hour trip!) in January to get his biometrics taken, only to be told when we got there the system had been down for 3 days and they weren't sure when it was likely to be working again.

    Our appointment was re-scheduled for mid-March and once we got past the security gate and had our electronic devices removed from our posession were told that we may not get seen as the system was down and had been since lunchtime! I can see the ID card scheme working really well!

    Paris - coz she has better things to be doing with her fingers!

  16. Damien Thorn

    top marks

    All that trouble to get into the uk.

    A whisper went round the correct way is to go to dublin ireland - no such checking. Become irish and simply get the ferry across.

    The only problem is dublin is so friendly and so nice thats as far as these "undesirables" get, once there they fit in and get on with life without issue.

    Yet here we need multiple technology to protect us - no mention of common sense tho in any of the reports!

    Which tech provides that?

  17. Mike Hunt

    Its easier than that......

    Instead of spending Trillions of the already hard pressed tax payers money on Government IT systems that don't work, just get the French to blockade the ports....that stops the lorries getting on the ferries.....thus keeping Johnny Foreigner types to work on the chunnel and the do you get a trawler down the tunnel, and are there any Scottish doctors looking for a driving job ?

  18. Anonymous Coward

    @10 fingerprints

    Nono. Its not that the HO haven't evolved them yet, but because nothing can be allowed to /oppose/ our glorious march to safety from imaginary enemies.

    (think about it...)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @ Leaving?

    I'm well ahead of you there - I left several years ago and it's fun, fun, fun to see the UK government continue to dig through bedrock and all, if it wasn't for all the friends I have who I see suffer as a result of those grade A bastards.

    All they're after is stuffing their pockets as much and as fast as they can get away with because they know they will never get the chance again, ditto for the whole cluster of hangers-on like major consultancies (don't think most gov projects are for any tangible benefit other than filling pockets with YOUR tax money). The abuse is simply staggering, but I guess people get the government they deserve. After all, you accept the BS they spout, and ditto for the press.

    One comment: the Government is NOT a chaos. There is a difference between blatant stupidity and deliberate malfeasance. Once you stop believing everyone is stupid, it suddenly all makes sense.

  20. P. Lee
    Gates Horns

    Suicide terrorists

    They won't get in to do their dastardly work, again!

    Next time, they'll have to deal with The Bill.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Just another flaw in the visa procedures

    This is just the latest flaw in the system: it operates on top of the "outsourcing" that is done to collect and do the initial processing of visa applications in some countries. A separate (perhaps even a private company) is what one has to apply via, and, in the case of China, it is staffed almost entirely by non-British people. The official line is that they have no say in whether a visa is granted or not, but my experiences as a UK citizen helping my wife and son apply for visas was quite the reverse, with an initial rejection of evidence that later proved necessary (we got it accepted only by effectively demanding that they included it in the material forwarded to the visa officer from the embassy), and a complete lack of knowledge of how the UK does things (e.g., there is no council certificate that proves that I had no mortgage, because I own my house outright, and it was quite wrong of them to try to reject a copy of the relevant land-registry entry for ownership details of my house on the spurious grounds that "it is a copy, and we need the originals", as if one could include the actual land register if it even exists as a single hard-copy definitive source anymore!) The problems were so severe it prompted me to have a meeting with my MP about it. At the meeting and interviews we had with the embassy officer later in Beijing, the initially rejected information was stated to have been definitely necessary crucial peices of information that, if absent, would have seriously compromised my wife's and son's applications.

    If the material could have been biased in this way, it is feasible it could be biased in different ways to allow people in who would not normally be allowed in. I doubt that China is the only country where such "outsourcing" to organisations that employ non-UK staff is done.

    With cockups like this, and with non-UK staff being employed in roles, that, despite the official blather, can definitely have an influence on what is presented to embassy staff, it not so surprising that people intent on doing the country harm can get into the country. Indeed, one could say it is surprising there are not more of them getting in, and perhaps there are, but we just don't know the extent yet.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    3 days??

    How can a system be down for 3 days? I worked for an investment bank, if a system was down for more than 5 minutes, managers were pulling their hair out, 3 days man, I call that incompetence. Think how much money a bank would lose if its trading systems were down for 3 days.

    Nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to the government and technology, nothing.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    UK Border Agency? Our best and brightest...

    At the start of 2008 I returned to the UK with a 10 year passport that I didn't realise was due to expire a few days before my return flight.

    The keen eyed check in staff at my departure point picked this up, I then proceeded to blag my way past having my drivers license (with photo) helped tremendously as I claimed it was accepted in Europe as a "national id" (shudder).

    When I arrived at Heathrow, I expected the UK Border Agency staff to at least mention the expiry, but no. The gentleman in question gave our documents a cursory glance and added "Welcome home sir!".

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Not Just Finger Printing not working.

    The whole bloody system is fcuked; my girlfriend applied for her visa on the 9th of March and was told it would take 10 working days;it is now the 16th of April and still no sign of the visa, I have had to cancel 3 sets of flights so far!!!!

    If the delays go on much longer I will have to cancel and re-schedule our wedding!!!!

  26. Wayland Sothcott

    Human rights for terrorists not sheeple

    All this checking only works on the sheeple. If they arrest terrorists they have to let them go.

  27. Jon


    Actually yes. Currently if you leave comercially (ferry, plane etc.) your journey is tracked and logged for 10 years and by 2012 even if you swim the channel to escape air strip one you need to tell "them" or be interned as a terroist.

    I'll take the pirate ship to anywhere.

  28. DR

    at last proof

    the people who plan these scheme lack opposable thumbs!

  29. Paul C. Dickie

    The road to madness

    How long will it be before some authoritarian berk decides that the biometric passport / ID card scam^W scheme won't work and that the only way to ensure the country is "secure" would be to require people to be injected in the neck with a microchip?

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