Washington -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announceddates on which the US-VISIT program will be implemented at the 50 busiest landports along U.S. borders, according to a DHS notice published in the FederalRegister.
Immigration officials at these land border crossings -- which account for 94percent of the foreign visitors who enter and exit the United States throughland borders -- will begin US-VISIT processing of visitors no later thanDecember 31. Six crossing points began US-VISIT processing of visitors onNovember 15.
Developed in response to a congressional mandate, US-VISIT (United StatesVisitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology) -- an automated entry/exitsystem -- requires most foreign visitors traveling to the United States to havetwo fingers scanned by an inkless device and a digital photograph taken byimmigration officials upon entry to the United States.
According to DHS, the program aims to enhance security, reduce opportunitiesfor fraud and increase the integrity of the U.S. immigration system. The entrycomponent of US-VISIT was put into effect at 115 airports and 14 seaportsJanuary 5.
"We have been able to process 12.6 million passengers at air and seaports and we have been able to intercept over 330 criminals or other immigrationviolators" through US-VISIT, said DHS spokeswoman for US-VISIT KimberlyWeissman in a November 15 interview with the Washington File.
"We have done this incredible amount of processing without impacting thewait times at the ports of entry," she said, noting that the US-VISITprocedures take about 15 seconds per traveler.
Under US-VISIT, many of the procedures upon entry and exit to the UnitedStates will remain unchanged. Upon entry, Weissman said, immigration officerswill continue to review travel documents, such as a visa and passport, and askquestions about the visitor's stay in the U.S.
But now when an immigration official electronically scans the visa in thevisitor's passport, the photo and biographic data collected during the visaapplication interview become available on the official's computer. The visitorwill then be asked to put one and then the other index finger on a glass platethat will electronically capture fingerscans. These fingerscans will be runthrough a database to verifyentity and ensure the visitor is eligible toenter the United States. Visitors also will be photographed.
Discussing how US-VISIT is facilitating travel, Weissman said that travelersare no longer required to fill out the I-94 arrival/departure card becausebiographic information about the traveler becomes available when an immigrationofficial electronically scans a travel document.
Weissman called US-VISIT a "very smooth and efficient process."
She also explained that nationals of Mexico traveling with a Border CrossingCard (BCC) who will stay in the United States less than 30 days and not traveloutside of the "border zone" (defined as within 25 miles of the borderin Texas, California and New Mexico, and 75 miles of the border in Arizona) arenot required to enroll in US-VISIT. The duration of travel and distance traveleddetermine whether or not a BCC holder must enroll in US-VISIT, she said.
If a Mexican national chooses to use the BCC as a visa (traveling outside the"border zone" and/or staying longer than 30 days in the U.S.), he orshe must undergo US-VISIT processing at the land border secondary inspectionareas.
Weissman added that prior to issuing a BCC, the U.S. conducts biographic andbiometric checks on the applicant, whose digital fingerscans and photograph areembedded into the BCC.
More information about the US-VISIT program is available at www.dhs.gov/us-visit.
Following are the land ports of entry and estimated date each port will beginprocessing visitors in US-VISIT, as published in the November 9 FederalRegister:
Federal Register/Vol. 69, No. 216/Tuesday, November 9, 2004
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Border and Transportation Security; Notice to Aliens Included in the UnitedStates Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology System (US-VISIT)
AGENCY: Border and Transportation Security Directorate, DHS.
The 50 Land Border Ports of Entry (POEs) that will begin biometric datacollection as part of US-VISIT processing no later than December 31, 2004 are asfollows:
Estimated start date of November 15, 2004 (6):Port Huron POE, Blue Water Bridge, Highway 69 and International Border,Port Huron, MichiganDouglas POE, Rte 191 and International Border, Douglas, AZLincoln-Juarez Bridge POE, Laredo, TXGateway to the Americas International Bridge POE, Laredo, TXColumbia Solidarity Bridge POE, Laredo, TXWorld Trade Bridge POE, Laredo, TXEstimated start date of December 6, 2004 (11):Niagara Falls POE (to include Lewiston-Queenstown, Whirlpool, andRainbow Bridges), Niagara Falls, NYPeace Bridge POE, Moore Drive and International Border, Buffalo, NYDetroit Ambassador Bridge POE, Detroit, MIDetroit-Windsor Tunnel POE, Detroit, MILukeville POE, Highway 85 & International Border, Lukeville, AZNogales East (Deconcini POE), Nogales, AZNogales West (Mariposa POE), Nogales, AZSan Luis POE, Highway 95 & International Border, San Luis, AZAndrade POE, Andrade, CACalexico East-Imperial Valley POE, Rte 111 and International Border,Calexico, CACalexico West POE, Rte 111 and International Border, Calexico, CA
Estimated start date of December 13, 2004 (11):Fabens POE 18051, Island Guadalupe, Fabens, TXPresidio POE, Border Station Highway 67, Presidio, TX 79845Santa Teresa POE, Santa Teresa, NMOtay Mesa POE, 9777 Via De La Amistad, San Diego, CASan Ysidro POE, Highway 5 and International Border, San Diego, CATecate POE, Hwy 188 and International Border, Tecate, CABlaine-Pacific Highway POE, Rte. 543 and International Border, Blaine, WABlaine-Peace Arch POE, Interstate 5 and International Border, Blaine, WALynden POE, Rte. 539 and International Border, Lynden, WAPoint Roberts POE, Tyee Drive and Roosevelt Way, Point Roberts, WASumas POE, Cherry Street and International Avenue, Sumas, WA
Estimated start date of December 20, 2004 (10):Champlain POE, Highway 87 and International Border, Champlain, NYMassena POE, Rte. 45 and International Border, Rooseveltown, NYThousand Islands POE, Highway 81 and International Border, Alexandria Bay, NYSault Ste. Marie POE, The International Bridge, Highway 75 and InternationalBorder, Sault Ste. Marie, MIBridge of the Americas POE, El Paso, TXPaso del Norte Bridge POE, El Paso, TXYsleta POE, Ysleta-Zaragoza Bridge, El Paso, TXDerby Line POE, Highway 91 and International Border, Derby Line, VTCalais--Ferry Point POE, Main Street and International Border, Calais, MEInternational Falls POE, Rte 53 and International Border, International Falls,MN
Estimated start date of December 27, 2004 (12):Gateway International Bridge POE, Brownsville, TXBrownsville/Matamoros Bridge POE, Brownsville, TXHidalgo POE, McAllen-Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge, McAllen, TXLos Indios POE, Free Trade Bridge at Los Indios, Los Indios, TXLos Tomates/Veterans International Bridge POE, Brownsville, TXPharr POE, Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, Pharr, TXProgreso POE, Progreso/Nuevo Progreso International Bridge, Progreso, TXRio Grande City POE, Starr-Camargo Bridge, Rio Grande City, TXRoma POE, Roma-Ciudad Miguel Alem[aacute]n Bridge, Highway 83 and InternationalBorder, Roma, TXDel Rio POE, Del Rio/Cuidad Acuna International Bridge, Garfield Avenue andInternational Border, Del Rio, TXEagle Pass Bridge I POE, Eagle Pass/Piedras Negras Bridge, Highway 57 andInternational Border, Eagle Pass, TXEagle Pass Bridge II POE, Camino Real International Bridge, Highway 57 andInternational Border, Eagle Pass, TX
DHS has included these dates as estimates only. Should changes occurfollowing the publication of this notice, revised estimated dates can be foundon the US-VISIT Web site at http://www.dhs.gov/us-visit.
Created: 15 Nov 2004 Updated: 16 Nov 2004