US-VISIT will begin a test of entry procedures at land ports of entry in the secondary
inspection area starting in mid-November. Initial testing will begin at land ports
of entry in Douglas, Arizona, Port Huron, Michigan, and Laredo, Texas.
These initial tests of the entry process and systems at designated land ports
of entry will ensure a smooth transition for the December 31, 2004, implementation,
when US?VISIT entry procedures will be deployed in the secondary inspection area
of the 50 busiest land ports of entry. This staged rigorous approach of testing
and validation is the same approach used before US-VISIT was implemented at airports
and seaports on January 5, 2004.
At land ports of entry, the US-VISIT procedures that will be in place in secondary
will involve the collection of two index fingerscans and a digital photograph
for those visitors who are being referred to secondary inspection because they
are traveling to the U.S. using a visa or passport. Deployment of US-VISIT will
also expedite the I-94 process, as visitors referred to secondary inspection will
no longer be required to manually complete the I-94 form. This form will be electronically
populated when a visitor's travel documents are scanned by the U.S. Customs and
Border Protection officer in the secondary inspection area.
"US-VISIT has met every single one of its commitments and deadlines successfully
to date. US-VISIT has proved itself at our airports and seaports, and I can assure
you that as we move into the next phase with land borders, our entire team is
focused intensely on maintaining that high standard of performance. US?VISIT will
not deploy an untested system," said Under Secretary for Border and Transportation
Security Asa Hutchinson.
The goals of US-VISIT are to enhance the security of our citizens and visitors;
facilitate legitimate travel and trade; ensure the integrity of our immigration
system; and protect the privacy of our visitors.
US-VISIT is a continuum of security measures that begins overseas, when a person
applies for a visa to travel to the United States, and continues on through entry
and exit at U.S. airports, seaports and, eventually, at land border crossings.
These measures will be expanded by the end of this year to the secondary areas
of the 50 busiest land ports of entry and to the remaining land ports of entry
by December 31, 2005. Secondary inspection is the area within a port of entry
where visitors traveling with visas or passports are processed, or where a visitor
is referred if the Customs and Border Protection officer deems additional interviews
or background checks are necessary. US-VISIT is committed to providing a solution
that balances U.S. security requirements with the travel needs of residents and
businesses along the border.
US-VISIT procedures will apply to foreign travelers who are processed in the secondary
inspection area, with some exemptions. These exceptions include most Canadian
citizens, who do not require a visa or passport to enter the United States, and,
initially, most Mexican visitors, who travel and apply for admission using a Border
Crossing Card (BCC) within the "Border Zone." This "Border Zone"
was expanded earlier this year by DHS to include travel for up to 30 days. The
primary inspection area, where millions of visitors pass through the pedestrian
and vehicle lanes, will remain unaffected at this time because those visitors
have been pre-screened as part of the process to receive a BCC.
As the next phase of US-VISIT is implemented at the 50 busiest land ports of entry
by the end of 2004, if a Mexican visitor chooses to use the BCC as a B1/B2 visa
(traveling outside the "Border Zone" and/or staying longer than 30 days
in the U.S.), he or she will undergo US?VISIT processing at the land border secondary
inspection areas. Starting on September 30, 2004, US-VISIT procedures began applying
to visitors traveling under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) at all airports and
seaports of entry and will apply to VWP visitors entering the United States at
these top 50 land border ports of entry by December 31, 2004. In 2005, US-VISIT
expects to begin deployment of entry-exit capabilities in the primary inspection
areas, following extensive testing and consultation with border stakeholders.
Since US-VISIT entry procedures became operational at 115 airports and 14 seaports
on January 5, 2004, more than 10 million foreign visitors have been processed
without adversely impacting wait times. At the same time, because of US-VISIT,
the United States has been able to arrest or deny admission to nearly 300 criminals
or immigration violators. These included federal penitentiary escapees, convicted
rapists, drug traffickers, individuals convicted of manslaughter and credit card
fraud, a convicted armed robber and numerous immigration violators and individuals
attempting visa fraud.
Experience has shown that the US-VISIT enrollment process is fast, easy to understand,
and simple for visitors. Expanding US-VISIT entry procedures to our land ports
of entry builds on the Department's progress to secure our borders while enabling
the free flow of goods and people.