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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 visiting the UK. She had her fingerprints taken and was told to return on 8 April to pick up her visa. Dabs are sent to London for checking against a database of previous applicants before a visa is issued. She had booked her flight accordingly and returned to the local UK embassy last Wednesday. 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.

UK visa applicants have had to provide ten fingerprints and a digital photograph since January.

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. This incident did not affect the integrity of our visa application systems and all applicants went through the normal stringent checks.” He was unable to clarify what caused the problem.

New rules for highly-skilled migrant workers to the UK came into effect 31 March, the following day the UK Border Agency became a full executive agency of the Home Office. ®

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