UPDATE: As of May 04, 2007 US-VISIT moved out of its biometric
exit pilot phase, which means foreign nationals leaving the U.S.
are no longer required to exit register per US-VISIT. Note that
this does not impact those foreign nationals subjected to NSEERS
and those individuals are still required to exit register when
leaving the U.S.
On October 14, 2004, the Department of Homeland
Security announced plans to begin testing US-VISIT entry
procedures at selected land ports of entry in the secondary
inspection area starting in mid-November. Initial testing will
begin at land ports of entry in Douglas, Arizona, Port Huron,
Michigan, and Laredo, Texas. Following this testing period, by
December 31, 2004, US-VISIT entry procedures will be deployed in
the secondary inspection area of the 50 busiest land ports of entry.
When entering the United States, visitors are
initially reviewed at "primary" inspection, where an officer of
the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reviews entry documents,
asks questions about the purpose of visiting the U.S., and notes
the date of entry and period of admission authorized. If the
CBP officer determines that additional information is required,
the visitor is referred to "secondary" inspection, where he or
she will be interviewed, have documents reviewed, and CBP will
check its databases for relevant information about the visitor.
The vast majority of visitors referred to secondary inspection
are admitted to the U.S.
At land ports of entry, the US-VISIT procedures that will be in
place in secondary inspection will involve the collection of two
index fingerscans and a digital
photograph for those visitors who are being referred to
secondary inspection because they are traveling to the U.S.
using a visa or passport. Deployment of US-VISIT will also
expedite the I-94 process, as visitors referred to secondary
inspection will no longer be required to manually complete the
I-94 form. This form will be electronically populated when a
visitor's travel documents are scanned by the CBP officer in the
secondary inspection area.
US-VISIT procedures will apply to foreign
travelers who are processed in the secondary inspection area,
with some exceptions. These exceptions include most Canadian
citizens, who do not require a visa or passport to enter the
United States, and, initially, most Mexican visitors, who travel
and apply for admission using a Border Crossing Card (BCC)
within the "Border Zone." This "Border Zone" was expanded
earlier this year by DHS to include travel to the U.S. for up to
30 days. The primary inspection area at these land border
crossings will remain unaffected at this time because those
visitors have been pre-screened as part of the process to receive a BCC.
As the next phase of US-VISIT is implemented at
the 50 busiest land ports of entry by the end of 2004, if a
Mexican visitor chooses to use the BCC as a B1/B2 visa
(traveling outside the "Border Zone" and/or staying longer than
30 days in the U.S.), he or she will undergo US-VISIT processing
at the land border secondary inspection areas.
According to DHS, since US-VISIT entry
procedures became operational at 115 airports and 14 seaports on
January 5, 2004, more than 10 million foreign visitors have been
processed without adversely impacting wait times, and nearly 300
criminals or immigration violators have been arrested or denied entry to the U.S.