DHS announced a final rule on December 18, 2008 that expands the categories of non-US citizens required to provide finger scans, photographs or other biometric data upon entry to the United States through the US-VISIT program. Our May 2008 Immigration Alert discussed the US-VISIT program in detail. The final rule took effect on January 18, 2009.  

Under the final rule, the following classes of individuals have been added to the categories of non-US citizens that must provide biometric data upon entry to the United States:

  • Lawful permanent residents (LPRs);
  • Persons seeking admission on immigrant visas;
  • Refugees and asylees;
  • Certain Canadian citizens who receive a Form I-94 at inspection or who require a waiver of inadmissibility;
  • Persons paroled into the United States; and
  • Persons applying for admission under the Guam Visa Waiver Program.  

Exceptions to the final rule include Canadian citizens seeking short-term admission for business or pleasure under B visas and individuals traveling on A and G visas.  

Recently, Paul Morris, executive director for admissibility and passenger control for Customs and Border Protection, stated that LPRs entering through land ports of entry are required to provide fingerprints only if they are referred to secondary inspection. As of January 2009, not all land ports had 10-print finger scan capability, but installation at all ports was expected to be completed soon.  

The final rule has been the subject of much criticism, especially concerning the collection of biometric data from LPRs, who, in some cases, have been living in the United States for many years. Litigation challenging the implementation of this rule may be on the horizon.