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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                    October 28, 2003

Contact: CBP at 202-927-8727 

 

US-VISIT FACT SHEET

 

The Goals of US-VISIT are to:

 

  • Enhance the security of our citizens and visitors
  • Expedite legitimate travel and trade
  • Ensure the integrity of the immigration system
  • Safeguard the personal privacy of our visitors

 

How it works:  Entry

 

  • Many of the entry procedures in place today remain unchanged and are familiar to international travelers.

 

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers will review travel documents, such as a visa and passport, and ask questions about the visitor’s stay in the U.S.

 

  • The new, inkless fingerprint scanner is easy to use.  The visitor will be asked to put one and then the other index finger on a glass plate that will electronically capture two fingerprints.

 

  • Visitors also will be asked to look into a camera and their picture will be taken.  This can be done while fingerprinting is in process.

 

  • The enhancements to the entry procedures add minimal time to the process – only seconds in most cases.

 

How it works: Exit

 

  • The exit procedures at airports and seaports will be phased in, becoming operational in 2004.

 

  • At the international departure area, visitors will see automated, self-service kiosks where they will be asked to scan their travel documents and repeat the fingerprinting process on the inkless device.   Attendants will be available to assist with the process.

 

  • The exit confirmation will be added to the visitor’s travel records to demonstrate compliance and record the individual’s status for future visits to the United States.

 

Enhancing Security:

 

  • The addition of biometric identifiers, such as fingerprints, makes our security system more effective than names databases alone.

 

  • Biometric identifiers also protect our visitors by making it virtually impossible for anyone else to claim their identity should their travel documents be stolen or duplicated.

 

  • By combining these entry and exit processes, and by securely storing the travel records, we can account for visitors who require a visa for travel to the U.S.

 

Expediting Travel:

 

  • US-VISIT procedures are designed to be easy.  The enhanced entry procedures at airports and seaports add minimal time – in most cases only seconds – to the immigration process, which typically takes 60-90 seconds without US-VISIT procedures.

 

 

And Respecting Privacy and the Environment

 

  • Travel data will be securely stored, and is made available only to authorized officials and selected law enforcement agencies on a need-to-know basis to help protect the nation against those who intend harm to our citizens or our visitors.

 

  • Studies are underway to ensure that the US-VISIT process will not adversely affect the environment.

 

 

US-VISIT:  Timing and Delivery

 

  • The Department of Homeland Security is aggressively working to meet the Congressional end-of-year deadline to have in place an entry and exit system that strengthens security through identity verification and expedites travel for legitimate visitors while respecting their privacy and our environment. 

 

  • The Department of Homeland Security is also on track to meet the Secretary’s deadline to implement technology at the primary inspection locations that will collect and verify biometric information -- fingerprints and photos -- of foreign nationals who are required to obtain a visa to enter the United States.

 

  • The entry enhancements to the immigration process – taking fingerprints and photos -- will be operative in 115 airports and 14 major seaports by early 2004.

  • As of early 2004, the entry enhancements to the immigration process -- taking fingerprints and photos -- will be operative in 115 airports, giving us the capability to verify the identity of 100% of the international travelers who come to the U.S. by air.  By early 2004, entry enhancements will be operative at 14 major seaports. 

 

  • Exit procedures will be operational at as many as ten major airports and at one seaport.  Visitors requiring a visa to travel to the United States who leave from one of those sea or airports will check out to confirm their compliance with immigration policies.

 

  • Exit procedures will be phased in at the remaining major airports and seaports in early 2004.

 

  • Entry and exit enhancements at land borders will be phased in throughout 2005 and 2006.

 

  • This equipment has been delivered and is being installed at airports and seaports.

 

  • The US-VISIT program received $380 million for FY 03 and has been appropriated $330 million for FY 04.  A spending plan must be submitted to the GAO and appropriations committees for approval before funds are obligated.

 

 

 

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