Department of Homeland Security proposes expansion of visitors enrolled in US-VISIT

WASHINGTON,DC -- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on July 27 a rule proposing to expand processing in the US-VISIT program to an additional number of non-U.S. citizens. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) will be published in the Federal Register on July 27, 2006, but will not go into effect immediately.



US-VISIT records biometric and biographic information to verify the identities of foreign visitors to the United States. Most visitors experience US-VISIT biometric collection procedures -- digital, inkless finger scans and digital photograph -- upon entry to the United States and at visa-issuing posts around the world.



Specifically included would be:



* Lawful permanent residents of the United States (LPRs).



* Individuals entering the United States who seek admission on immigrant
visas.



* Individuals entering the United States who seek admission as refugees
and asylees.



* Certain Canadian citizens entering the United States for specific business or employment reasons (excludes most Canadian citizens entering the United States for purposes of shopping, visiting friends and family, or vacation.)



* Individuals paroled into the United States.



* Individuals applying for admission to Guam under the Guam Visa Waiver Program.



* Expanding the population processed through US-VISIT is the next step in a comprehensive plan to further improve public safety and national security, as well as ensure the integrity of the immigration process. It is consistent with a number of initiatives that strengthen the integrity of travel documents issued to foreign visitors seeking entry into the United States, as it verifies the travel documents' holder by their biometrics. Biometric identifiers protect travelers by making it virtually impossible for anyone else to claim their identities should their biometrically-linked travel documents (such as a permanent resident card) be stolen or duplicated.



US-VISIT currently applies to all foreign visitors (with limited exemptions) entering the United States, regardless of country of origin or whether they are traveling on a visa or by air, sea, or land. This includes foreign visitors traveling under the Visa Waiver Program. Foreign visitors
under age 14 and over age 79 are exempt from US-VISIT procedures.



The NPRM provides the general public with the opportunity to submit written comments electronically or by mail.



Comments may be submitted on or before August 28, 2006, citing Docket Number DHS-2005-0037, via: Federal Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov . Follow the instructions for submitting comments. All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number for this rulemaking.



All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov , including any personal information provided.



Written comments may be submitted to: US-VISIT, Department of Homeland Security, 1616 N. Fort Myer Drive, 18th Floor, Arlington, VA 22209.



The text of the proposed rule is available on http://www.dhs.gov/us-visit
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