On July 14, 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that the agency will begin collecting biometric data from select foreign nationals departing the United States.  The new initiative, which is scheduled to run through at least June 2016, is being implemented first at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and will expand to other airports in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York, San Francisco, and Washington-Dulles.

CBP officers will deploy to the loading bridge for international flights and will scan selected foreign nationals’ fingerprints before they board the airplane.  It is not clear whether CBP officers will select individuals based on a random selection process or will follow certain pre-determined criteria.  CBP officials will match the biometric data collected upon departure with the data collected upon the traveler’s entry into the United States.  The CBP will then store the data in systems managed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The CBP announcement has indicated the project is one of several initiatives to address the requirement that departures of foreign nationals be biometrically recorded.  During this initiative, the CBP will evaluated the feasibility of using the handheld device to collect biometrics from departing foreign nationals and to conduct law enforcement queries used in the inspection of foreign nationals.

The inspections process for foreign nationals arriving in the United States already involves the collection of biometric data.  The collection of biometric data upon departure will further close the gap in the agency’s ability to confirm the identity of those entering and exiting the United States, and to track and record the exit of temporary visitors to the United States.