Upgraded Biometric Technology Facilitates Visitors' Entry to the United States

Thu Jan 15, 2009 3:39pm EST

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) announced today that upgraded biometric technology is in place
at major U.S. ports of entry, and most international visitors should expect to
use the new technology when they enter the United States.  DHS's US-VISIT
program began upgrading its biometric technology from a two- to a
10-fingerprint collection standard in 2007 to make the entry process faster
and more accurate, enabling DHS officials to focus their attention on people
who may pose a risk to the United States.
    "Since 2004, biometrics have facilitated legitimate travel for millions of
visitors entering the United States," said US-VISIT Director Robert Mocny.
"The 10-fingerprint upgrade makes this proven system even more efficient and
enhances the security of our nation."
    For the last five years, U.S. Department of State (State) consular
officers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers have collected
biometric information -- digital fingerprints and a photograph -- from all
non-U.S. citizens between the ages of 14 and 79, with some exceptions, when
they apply for visas or arrive at major U.S. ports of entry.  State consular
officers began collecting 10 fingerprints from visa applicants in 2007.
    Collecting 10 fingerprints increases fingerprint matching accuracy and
reduces the possibility that the system will misidentify an international
visitor.  It also strengthens DHS's capability to check visitors' fingerprints
against the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) criminal data and enables
DHS to check visitors' fingerprints against latent fingerprints collected by
the Department of Defense (DOD) and the FBI from known and unknown terrorists
around the world.
    DHS's US-VISIT program, in cooperation with CBP, is leading the
department's upgrade to 10-fingerprint collection.  This upgrade is the result
of an interagency partnership among DHS, FBI, DOD and State.
    US-VISIT provides biometric identification services to agencies throughout
federal, state and local government.  The program's most visible service is
the collection of biometrics from international visitors when they apply for
visas and enter the United States.  Since US-VISIT began in 2004, DHS's use of
biometrics has helped prevent the use of fraudulent documents, protect
visitors from identity theft, and stop thousands of criminals and immigration
violators from entering the United States.
SOURCE  U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

US-VISIT Public Affairs, +1-202-298-5200
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