Immigration in Australia is launching a trial to allow Singapore e-passport holders to use SmartGate self-processing facilities in the country's eight major airports, it has been announced.

The extension to Singaporean travellers will make them the sixth nation to use this state of the art technology. SmartGate is currently available to Australian, New Zealand and UK citizens on a permanent basis and to US and Swiss electronic passport holders under trial arrangements.

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In 2012/2013 more than four million people self-processed through the SmartGate Australia programme​

Customs and Border Protection also plans to trial additional nationalities over the next 12 months, with priority being given to countries that have the most regular visitors to Australia.

Assistant Minister for Immigration Michaelia Cash said that during the financial year 2012/2013, more than four million people self-processed through SmartGate Australia, an increase of 38% on the previous year.

'By 2018 over 80% of all travellers into and out of Australia will hold an ePassport. As more travellers use SmartGate, Customs and Border Protection officers can focus their attention on people who pose a risk to the border, while legitimate, law abiding travellers can pass through with ease,' Cash explained.

SmartGate is a self-service processing option for eligible travellers entering Australia. The key benefit is its speed. Rather than having to queue to see a Customs and Border Protection Officer, SmartGate travellers can self-process through passport control. Cash pointed out that this can be much quicker, particularly during busy periods.

Meanwhile, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop have announced visa provisions for Ukrainian nationals in Australia that will allow them to temporarily remain while the crisis in their country continues.

Ukrainian nationals who are currently in Australia on a visa due to expire and who may be affected by the unrest in the Ukraine will be able to approach the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to make an application and receive an extension of their visa for a temporary period.

Subsequent applications may also be made if the situation of unrest in the Ukraine is further deemed by the government at that time to warrant a further extension.

Australian government travel advice issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was upgraded overnight for Ukraine. Australians thinking of travelling to Ukraine and the surrounding area, and those already there, are urged to reconsider their need to travel and are encouraged to log on to the government's Smartraveller website.