US-VISIT moves out of biometric exit pilot phase

WASHINGTON, May 4, 2007 -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that it intends to integrate biometric exit procedures into the existing international visitor departure process. The change will make the process of departing the United States more convenient and accessible for international visitors.

DHS will take a number of steps in the next year toward full implementation of biometric exit procedures at airports. The first step will be the completion of the three-year pilot program that required international visitors to biometrically check out at select airports and seaports. Effective May 6, 2007, international visitors will no longer be required to use the US-VISIT exit kiosks when they leave the United States. International visitors who received a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Form I-94, Arrival- Departure Record, upon arrival must still return the form to an airline or ship representative when departing the United States.

DHS recently submitted an exit plan to Congress as part of the US-VISIT 2007 Expenditure Plan that incorporates lessons learned from the biometric exit pilot program. While the program demonstrated that the technology works, it also revealed low traveler compliance. DHS has determined that US-VISIT air exit procedures should be incorporated into the existing international visitor departure process to minimize the effect on visitors and to ensure seamless biometric collection regardless of the visitor's departure point.

DHS, Congress and the 9/11 Commission have consistently recognized biometric exit control as a priority in order to fully secure our nation's borders. Development of an automated exit capability is one of the department's congressional mandates. Since 2003, DHS has systematically tackled technical and operational challenges and deployed a biometrics-based entry process through US-VISIT.

DHS is now prepared to begin implementing exit procedures in the commercial air environment, where the significant majority of those subject to US-VISIT depart the United States. The department recently began discussing the air exit strategy with the airline industry and will be working with air carriers to implement it. DHS will publish a regulation in the future outlining its plans for implementing an integrated air exit strategy.

The following locations tested biometric exit procedures:

    -- Atlanta, Ga. (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport)
    -- Baltimore, Md. (Baltimore/Washington International Airport)
    -- Chicago, Ill. (Chicago O'Hare International Airport)
    -- Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas (Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport)
    -- Denver, Colo. (Denver International Airport)
    -- Detroit, Mich. (Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport)
    -- Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport)
    -- Los Angeles, Calif. (San Pedro and Long Beach Seaports)
    -- Miami, Fla. (Miami International Cruise Line Terminal)
    -- Newark, N.J. (Newark Liberty International Airport)
    -- Philadelphia, Pa. (Philadelphia International Airport)
    -- San Juan, Puerto Rico (Luis Munoz Marin International Airport)
    -- San Francisco, Calif. (San Francisco International Airport)
    -- Seattle, Wash. (Seattle-Tacoma International Airport)

The US-VISIT program provides biometrics-based identity management services to entities throughout the U.S. government. Most international visitors applying to enter the United States experience US-VISIT procedures- digital fingerprint collection and a photograph. Department of State consular officers and U.S. CBP officers use US-VISIT biometric identity management services to establish and verify international visitors' identities in order to make visa-issuance and admission decisions.

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SOURCE U.S. Department of Homeland Security

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