The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expanding the US-VISIT program’s biometric entry procedures to the Amtrak Station in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. This is part of a multi-phased deployment of US-VISIT entry procedures that began in September and will be completed before the end of the year.
“By moving ahead with the scheduled expansion of US-VISIT to these additional land border ports of entry, we are taking the next step toward achieving our long-term and comprehensive vision of a 21st century immigration and border management system,” said Jim Williams, director of the US-VISIT program at the Department of Homeland Security.
US-VISIT installed biometric entry procedures at the 50 busiest land border ports along the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico land borders as of December 29, 2004, meeting the December 31, 2004 deadline.
The deployment of biometric entry procedures to each of the remaining 104 land border ports of entry is also ahead of the congressionally mandated schedule which mandated deployment at the remaining ports of entry by December 31, 2005.
US-VISIT is a continuum of security measures that collect biometric and biographic information from visitors at U.S. visa-issuing posts upon their arrival and departure from U.S. air, sea and land border ports.
The program enhances security by verifying visitors’ identities and by comparing their biometric and biographical information against watch lists of terrorists, criminals and immigration violators.
Since January 2004, US-VISIT has processed more than 44 million visitors, which makes the program the largest-scale application of biometrics in the world.
Biometrics have enabled US-VISIT to intercept, at U.S. ports of entry, more than 950 people with histories of criminal or immigration violations, including federal penitentiary escapees, convicted rapists, drug traffickers, individuals convicted of murder and numerous immigration violators.
Additionally, the State Department’s BioVisa program, which is fully integrated with US-VISIT, has resulted in more than 13,500 hits on individuals applying for visas to travel to the United States.
At many land border ports of entry, US-VISIT has decreased processing time in secondary inspection as a result of the automation of the Form I-94 issuance process and US-VISIT’s simple, fast and clean biometric processes.
US-VISIT currently applies to all visitors entering the United States, regardless of country of origin or whether they are traveling on a visa, with certain exemptions.
Canadian citizens are exempt, as are most Mexican visitors who apply for admission using a Border Crossing Card, also known as a laser visa, and travel within the border zone during the 30-day time limit.