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Changed Procedures at U.S. Ports-of-Entry
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  CHANGED PROCEDURES AT U.S. PORTS-OF-ENTRY
   1.US-VISIT Program?U.S. Begins Screening Program for Monitoring Foreign Visitors
   2. Visa Waiver Program
   3. INSPASS To Be Phased Out

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1. US-VISIT Program?U.S. Begins Screening Program for Monitoring Foreign Visitors


 a. Entry System

As of January 5, 2004 , two additional procedures have been added to the current inspection process at 115 airports with international flights. As part of these enhanced procedures, visitors traveling on visas will be photographed and fingerprinted at Passport Control at the port-of-entry. Visitors will have their index fingers scanned using a simple, inkless device. All of the visitor's data and information will then be compared against the government's inspection and law enforcement databases to verify the visitor's identity and to assist the inspector in making admissibility decisions. The fingerprinting, photographing and verification process generally takes about 15 seconds. Based on the verification results of this procedure, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer will either admit the visitor or conduct additional inquiries.


 b. Exit System

New e xit procedures at airports and seaports are currently being phased in and are scheduled to be fully in place by the Fall of 2004. At the international departure area, visitors will be directed to automated, self-service kiosks where they will scan their travel documents and repeat the fingerprinting process. Attendants will be available to assist with these procedures. The exit confirmation will be added to the database to demonstrate the visitor's compliance with the terms of their visa and to record the individual's status for future visits to the United States .


c.Arrival/Departure Records

Arrival and departure records will be stored in the Arrival/Departure Information System (ADIS). These records contain verification of the visitor's compliance with the terms of their visa. On subsequent entries into the U.S. , arrival and departure records will be immediately reconciled, and any inconsistency will allow US-VISIT to determine if a visitor has overstayed.


 d. Background

Surprisingly, this US-VISIT program was not the direct result of the tragic events of 9/11. As part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), Congress initially directed the U.S. Attorney General to develop an automated entry and exit control system to collect records of arrival and departure from every foreign visitor entering and leaving the United States. However, the unfortunate acts of September 11, 2001 increased the urgency to create a comprehensive entry/exit system, and the Congress passed the US PATRIOT Act .

Prior to January 2004 , only biographic data such as visitor's name was compared against watch lists of suspected terrorists, criminals and other violators. The use of biometric identifiers in addition to biographic data should make it more difficult for suspects to escape detection and enter the United States illegally.

 


2.Visa Waiver Program

Visa waiver entrants visiting the U.S. for up to 90 days, including Japanese nationals, are exempt from the fingerprint and photo requirements of the US-VISIT Program. However, since October of 2002, passenger arrival and departure information on individuals entering and leaving the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) has been electronically collected from airlines and vessels, through U.S. Customs' ADIS system. Thus, a visa waiver entrant who overstayed the 90-day limit after October 2002 would most likely be discovered even if he or she obtained a new passport to reenter the U.S.

By October 26, 2004 , countries in the VWP are mandated to certify that they have programs in place to issue their nationals machine-readable passports that incorporate biometric identifiers.


3.INSPASS To Be Phased Out

As part of the US-VISIT Program the INSPASS program will be phased out. This highly practical program, which started over 10 years ago, provided an automatic inspection system to expedite the entry of frequent business travelers from visa waiver countries. The traveler simply inserted his or her INSPASS card into a card reader at an automated inspection booth and was automatically issued an INSPASS I-94 document, thereby saving as much as one hour at busy ports-of-entry.

At this time there are no plans to replace this program for frequent business travelers.