Thursday, December 18, 2008

Department of Homeland Security Expands Collection of Biometrics for Visitors

/PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that it is expanding the categories of non-U.S. citizens required to provide digital fingerprints and a photograph upon entry to the United States through the US-VISIT program.

US-VISIT records biographic and biometric information to conduct security checks and verify the identities of international visitors to the United States. Expanding enrollment in US-VISIT is a positive step forward in a process designed to further improve public safety and national security while ensuring the integrity of the immigration system. Linking a person's biometric information to his or her travel documents reduces the risk that a traveler's identity or documents could be intentionally misused by someone attempting to gain entry into the United States.

Additional non-U.S. citizens required to provide biometrics are:

-- Lawful permanent residents of the United States (LPRs);
-- Persons entering the United States who seek admission on immigrant
-- Persons entering the United States who seek admission as refugees and
-- Canadian citizens who are currently required to obtain a Form I-94,
Arrival / Departure Document upon entry or require a waiver of
inadmissibility to enter the United States (This excludes most
Canadian citizens entering the United States for purposes of shopping,
visiting friends and family, vacation or short business trips);
-- Persons paroled into the United States; and
-- Persons applying for admission under the Guam Visa Waiver Program.

Collection and verification of biometric identifiers upon entry protects travelers by making it virtually impossible for anyone else to attempt to use their biometrically linked travel documents (such as a permanent resident card), such as if their documents were stolen or duplicated.

US-VISIT biometric collection requirements apply to most non-U.S. citizens, with limited exemptions, entering the United States regardless of country of origin or whether they are traveling on a visa or by air, sea or land. Non-U.S. citizens under the age of 14 and over the age of 79 are exempt from US-VISIT procedures, as are certain other individuals admitted under specific categories. The Final Rule is available for viewing at

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