The government agency that processes UK visa applications has reduced by two days the time it takes to have applicants' identities checked.
The SOA system, which has processed more than a million applications since its implementation, ensures biometric data collected at more than 150 UK visa issuing posts around the world can be compared with information held in the UK in less than 30 minutes.
Tony Mercer, network operations director at UKvisas, said, "We had to increase the accuracy of our immigration decisions as well as ensure visa application turnaround time met our public service agreement targets."
UKvisas needed a system that was able to meet the expected 10% increase each year in the number of biometric checks that will be required.
Legislation to be introduced in 2008 will require all applications for visas to enter the UK to be supported by biometric checks using digital photographs and fingerprint scans.
"Checking biometrics by e-mail with the manual processes involved was incapable of scaling to meet the requirements of the Home Office," said Mercer.
Implementation of the SOA system using the combined services of PA Consulting Group and Software AG is the first in the UK government's identity programmes to be completed.
Andre Pestell, head of procurement for UKvisas, said the decision to use Software AG was based on the supplier's expertise and partnership in the government sector with European IT infrastructure services provider Computacenter.