- 2007/09/29 RFID visas soon for visitors to Malaysia

Soon millions of foreign workers, students and long staying visitors will be issued with chip-based visas that will make Malaysian Immigration clearance a breeze.

Immigration director-general Datuk Wahid Md Don said the chip-based visa using the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) microchips would contain the foreigner's personal details and thumbprints.

"We hope to introduce this in stages by the end of this year," said Wahid, adding that the system was currently being tested on Bangladeshi foreign workers.

"Their thumbprints and other personal details are scanned and captured into a computer system in Dhaka and transferred to us here when they apply for work permits and upon entering Malaysia their scanned thumbprints and other details would be matched against our central database.

"If there is no match the worker would be turned away and deported back to Bangladesh," Wahid told journalists and editors at a roundtable discussion among newspaper editors and Tan Sri G. Gnanalingam, a member of the Special Taskforce to Facilitate Business, and Westports Sdn Bhd chief executive officer.

Wahid said the chip-based visa that comes in the form of a sticker would reduce forgery and improve enforcement work as immigration officers carrying out inspections at worksites could instantaneously retrieve data using chip readers.

He said when the chip-based visa, an extension of Malaysia's electronic passport that is being adopted by advanced countries like the United States, is fully implemented immigration workload at all 152 entry and exit points in the country would be eased.

There are over two million foreign workers and another 66,000 students in the country, while the country's tourist arrivals last year was over 17 million people.

On another matter, Wahid said Malaysians applying or renewing passports could get it done between 10 to 40 minutes using their MyKad as the department could easily retrieve data of applicants from the National Registration Department.

"We have also come out with a guidebook for expatriates applying to work and live here. The book will be made available soon," he said, adding that the processing of professional visa applications had also been reduced from 14 to seven days now.

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