DHS Will Expand US-VISIT Entry Requirements Beginning January 18

01/13/2009

U.S. Permanent Residents and Many Canadian Citizens Will Be Newly Subject to Biometrics Collection on Arrival

As of Sunday, January 18, 2009, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will broadly expand the pool of foreign nationals who are required to go through the inspection and biometrics collection procedures of the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) system. As of that date, the following groups will be subject to US-VISIT:

U.S. lawful permanent residents.

Canadian citizens. However, most Canadian citizens entering for business or pleasure or transiting through the United States will not be required to undergo US-VISIT processing, unless they have previously been deemed inadmissible to the United States and require a waiver of inadmissibility in order to enter.

Immigrant visa holders.

Foreign nationals paroled into the United States.

Foreign nationals entering under the Guam Visa Waiver Program.

Nonimmigrant visa holders and foreign nationals traveling to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program will continue to be required to comply with US-VISIT on arrival.

Several groups of foreign nationals are exempt from US-VISIT. These include foreign nationals under 14 or over 79 years of age, foreign nationals holding certain diplomatic and official visas in the A, G and NATO nonimmigrant categories, and foreign nationals registered in the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) (who are otherwise subject to entry, exit and biometrics collection procedures through that system).

US-VISIT Entry Procedures

US-VISIT is an electronic check-in system for foreign travelers to the United States. When arriving in the United States, travelers subject to the system are fingerprinted and photographed, and their travel documents are reviewed. Each traveler’s information is checked against immigration and law enforcement databases to determine whether the individual is eligible to enter the United States or should be prohibited from entering because of risks such as past visa or criminal violations or national security concerns.

US-VISIT is in operation at 115 U.S. airports, 15 seaports, 154 land border ports of entry, and at selected pre-flight inspection stations abroad. If US-VISIT is in place at a foreign traveler’s U.S. port of entry, he or she must go through the system upon arrival unless otherwise exempt. Foreign nationals who fail to comply with US-VISIT procedures may be deemed inadmissible to the United States.

There are currently no US-VISIT exit procedures in place. Previously, DHS tested a pilot exit program at several U.S. ports. The pilot has now expired, but DHS is expected to institute US-VISIT exit procedures in the future.

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