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Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                October 28, 2003

Contact: CBP at 202-927-8727 




WASHINGTON, DC, OCT. 28, 2003 – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security today unveiled the capability it will have in place at airports and seaports on December 31, 2003 to process visitors holding visas as they enter the United States.


The US-VISIT program -- United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology -- is a cornerstone of the Department’s goals to improve border management at our ports of entry.  By capturing more complete arrival and departure data for those who require a visa to enter the United States, the US-VISIT program will enhance the security of our citizens and visitors while expediting legitimate travel and trade. 


“We are moving rapidly to complete development and deploy the US-VISIT capability to meet the congressionally mandated deadline of December 31, 2003,” said Asa Hutchinson, Under Secretary of Border & Transportation Security of the Department of Homeland Security.  “We are on target to achieve this first increment of US-VISIT,” he said.


US-VISIT uses scanning equipment to collect “biometric identifiers,” such as fingerprints, in an inkless process, along with a digital photograph of the visitor. Together with the standard information gathered from a visitor about their identity and travel, the new program will verify the visitor’s identity and compliance with visa and immigration policies. The new procedures are expected to add just seconds to the entry and exit process.


All data obtained from the visitor is securely stored as part of the visitor’s travel record.  This information is made available only to authorized officials and selected law enforcement agencies responsible for ensuring the safety and security of U.S. citizens and foreign visitors.


At exit points, visitors will check out at kiosks by scanning their visa or passport and repeating the simple inkless fingerprinting process.  The exit confirmation will be added to the visitor’s travel records to demonstrate compliance.  Land border processing will be introduced in phases in 2005 and 2006. 


“All of these entry and exit procedures address our critical need for tighter security and our commitment to expedite travel for the millions of legitimate visitors we welcome each year to conduct business, learn, see family or tour the country,” said Under Secretary Hutchinson.


“The new program is designed to enhance the security of U.S. citizens and visitors, expedite legitimate travel and trade, ensure the integrity of the immigration system, and safeguard visitors’ personal privacy,” Hutchinson continued.


The law requires that an automated entry/exit system be implemented at air and seaports by December 31, 2003; the 50 most highly trafficked land ports of entry by December 31, 2004; and all ports of entry by December 31, 2005.


DHS is working closely with the air and sea industry to explain the requirements of the US-VISIT program.  In addition, the US-VISIT Project Team will partner with industry to ensure the latest technologies available will be incorporated into US-VISIT.   The request for proposal will be issued in November 2003. 


The US-VISIT program received $380 million for fiscal year 2003 and was appropriated $330 million for fiscal year 2004.


For more information, visit http://www.dhs.gov/us-visit


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