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DHS Proposes Biometric Airport and Seaport Exit Procedures
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish biometric exit procedures at all U.S airports and seaports of departure. Most Canadians already must submit digital fingerprints and a digital photograph for admission into the country. The US-VISIT Exit proposal would require non-U.S. citizens who provide biometric identifiers for admission to also provide digital fingerprints when departing the country from any air or sea ports of departure.
Congress, the 9/11 Commission and DHS have concluded that biometric records of the entry and exit of international visitors are essential for the integrity of the nation’s immigration and border-management system. The proposed rule does not change current exit procedures for departing visitors. Visitors departing the United States should continue to return paper Form I-94 or Form I-94W to airline or ship representatives.
The proposed rule would require commercial air carriers and cruise line owners and operators collect and transmit international visitors’ biometric information to DHS within 24 hours of leaving the United States. Carriers already must transmit biographic information to DHS for all passengers prior to their departure from the United States.
DHS is committed to protecting the privacy of international visitors and will require these systems meet the department’s transmission capability and data-security requirements. The proposed rule does not designate a specific location within the port of departure for biometric collection and does not apply to small carriers or vessel owners and operators, or to general aviation.
DHS completed a test of biometric exit procedures at several U.S. airports and seaports last year. Based on the results of this test, DHS determined biometric-exit procedures must be integrated into the existing traveler process to ensure compliance and provide visitors with a consistent experience from port to port.
DHS intends to implement air and sea biometric exit procedures by January 2009, fulfilling a key provision of the Implementing the Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007. This proposed rule will enable the secretary of DHS to retain the necessary authority to manage the Visa Waiver Program effectively.
The notice of proposed rulemaking will appear in the Federal Register and will provide the general public an opportunity to submit written comments electronically or by mail. The text of the proposed rule is available at www.dhs.gov.
Following the 60-day comment period and review, a final rule will be published outlining the new requirements and their effective dates.