Effective January 18, 2009, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expanded the list of non-U.S. citizens who are required to submit biometric information (digital fingerprints and a photograph) through the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) Program upon entry to the United States. The US-VISIT system enables the collection and storage of biometric information for purposes of verifying the identities and travel documents of foreign nationals.
Before January 18, foreign nationals who arrived at a U.S. port of entry with a nonimmigrant visa and individuals traveling without a visa as part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) were already required to submit biometric information through the US-VISIT system.
The following non-U.S. citizens have been added to the list:
- Lawful permanent residents of the United States (LPRs or green card holders);
- Individuals seeking admission to the United States on immigrant visas;
- Individuals seeking admission as refugees or asylees;
- Canadian citizens who are required to obtain a Form I-94 upon entry (i.e., those applying for admission in the following nonimmigrant classifications: C, D, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, Q 1, Q 3, R, S, T, TN). Excluded from this expanded list are most Canadian citizens entering for business trips or pleasure visits;
- Canadian citizens who require a waiver of inadmissibility to enter the United States;
- Individuals paroled into the United States; and
- Individuals applying for admission under the Guam Visa Waiver Program.
Non-U.S. citizens entering the United States at a land border port of entry may be processed differently at the discretion of the Homeland Security inspector:
- Rather than being required to provide biometrics upon entry, LPRs will have to do so only if they are referred to secondary inspection;
- All other non-U.S. citizens required to use US-VISIT under the new rule will be required to provide biometrics during secondary inspection; and
- Non-U.S. citizens who seek admission with Border Crossing Cards and who do not have a Form I-94 will still be required to go through US-VISIT procedures, at the discretion of Homeland Security officers.
DHS does not anticipate that the increase in the list of individuals who are required to use the US-VISIT system will impact processing or wait times. More information about the purpose of US-VISIT is available here.